It’s easy to understand why senior Carolyn Bolden is anxious to think about what comes after her swimming career at Cumberland Valley High School.
With her decision to swim at Division I Liberty University complete, Bolden looks forward to the day she is a student-athlete for the Flames.
“Liberty has the best of everything I could want. Academics, athletics, faith, and I am so excited and so blessed to be going there,” she said after Tuesday’s meet with Carlisle. “My visit was so much fun, I didn’t want to come home. Their facilities were top-notch in every aspect. I was blown away. It felt like home.”
Cumberland Valley head coach Mike Gobrecht knew Liberty would be a good fit for Bolden. Perhaps more so, the coach knew that Bolden would be a good fit for Liberty.
“She’s an awesome athlete, and you can see that by her going to states and doing well and being very confident in what she is doing,” Gobrecht said. “But, even better? She is a better person, and that is what coach Jake [Shellenberger] at Liberty saw when he recruited Carolyn.
“She is going to make everybody else on the team better, by her practice habits, her leadership and being an overall good person.”
Bolden will join a Flames squad that is unbeaten in meets so far this season and swims in a home facility that opened in 2017 and seats more than 1,400 spectators. After celebrating senior night with her Eagles teammates last week — the boys and girls swept the rival Thundering Herd — Bolden reflected on her time at CV.
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“The days went so fast,” she said after the meet. “Mike touched on it tonight, it’s blink of an eye and it’s gone. But I am so grateful, and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the four years any other way.”
In 2018, Bolden made the consolation finals and placed 13th in the 200 freestyle at the PIAA Class 3A championships. She also finished 25th in the state in the 500 free. Two weeks prior, she was fifth in the 200 and sixth in the 500 at the District 3 meet.
While naturally, she hopes to improve upon those places, Bolden’s perspective is about as good as it gets for a high school athlete.
“I think my season is going pretty well,” she said. “I would love to be at states again this year, hopefully finaling. I am going to just keep working hard and see how it goes.”
Able to swim most any event, Bolden said she enjoys the distance races where she gets motivation from her teammates’ reactions.
“[The 500] is long, it can get lonely. But it’s awesome to look over and see my teammates on the side with me,” she said. “I know I have to go out fast and bring it back faster.”
According to Gobrecht, Bolden and her fellow seniors worked hard to push the Eagles forward this season.
“I look at our girls team this year, and we have so many freshmen that are swimming really fast, and a lot that is senior leadership,” the coach said. “Carolyn and every one of the other seniors has really taken those freshmen and sophomores and helped them understand how things go with high school athletics. It was really taken the girls team to the next level.”
Swimming is a sport focused mostly on individual races, with separate girls and boys squads competing in dual meets during the regular season.
However, Bolden is the ultimate teammate across the board.
“It is girls and boys swimming, but we really are one family, one team,” she said. “The momentum we get from fast swims and fast meets builds and is really fun to watch.”
“That is what we look for,” Gobrecht said. “This is a coed sport. The boys are making the girls better and the girls are making the boys better. They train together, they are working hard with each other in practice.
“I have to say this year, my fifth at CV, the squad as a whole is really working hard. Great teams start with leadership at the top. Your top leadership, what are they doing with the rest of the team to make the team even better?”
With Bolden and Co. in the lead, the Eagles are flying high.
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