Strokes Ahead

Standout swimmer Lexi Sundgren leads the team to state championships this weekend.

Greta Mott, Staff Writer

NASH senior Lexi Sundgren started swimming at the age of seven and has developed into one of the top performers in a program that has long been recognized as one the best in the state.  She is captain of the North Allegheny Girls’ Swim Team and also held the title her junior season.

Sundgren is known as a great leader who generates positivity and kindness on the pool deck.  Every swimmer on the team looks up to her because of her commitment and her generosity.

“I am so thankful that people might look up to me.  I try my best to be the best role model I can be and like to lead by example,” said Sundgren. “I want to be the role model that other people were for me when I was young on the team.”

Many of Sundgren’s teammates wonder how she manages to stay positive with the practice and school workload.

“Perspective really helps me in tough times,” she explained. “Realizing life could be so much harder, recognizing the opportunities I get and always being grateful for them, and helping others by being compassionate all help me stay positive.”

Although the early mornings and four-hour-long practices make swimming a hard sport to find the positives in, Sundgren is thankful for all of the beneficial effects it has had on her life.

“Swimming has taught me so much about myself, teamwork, and empathy for others,” she said.  “It also provided me an outlet for my competitiveness. Since I grew up with so many siblings, I have always been abnormally competitive.  It also gave me all my friends that I love.”

Sundgren’s favorite aspect of swimming is her preparation on days when the competition is at its fiercest.

“It is just so exciting,” she said.

Speaking of big competitions, the PIAA State Championships, held at Bucknell University, begin on Friday, March 17, and earlier this morning the team boarded the bus at NASH for the four-hour drive east.

The atmosphere we have here is always so competitive and awesome, and everyone is really close.

— Lexi Sundgren, NA Swim Captain

The NA girls, riding a wave of 15 consecutive WPIAL titles, have a shot at winning the PIAA championship.

“Being on a winning team shows how hard we have worked and our dedication.  It is nice to see it pay off,” said Sundgren.

As this is Sundgren’s last year on the NA swim team, the final stretch of the season has been bittersweet..

“The atmosphere we have here is always so competitive and awesome, and everyone is really close,” she said.

Even though Sundgren will continue her athletic career at Duquesne, she knows the culture is going to be different. Yet she is eager to embrace the challenges ahead.

“I am excited to do what I want education-wise,” said Sundgren, who is studying to become a physician’s assistant.

But as focused as she is on her academics, she plans to be in the pool as often as possible.

“[Swimming] allows me to calm down and relax my mind,” she said. “It keeps me in line.”