Former St. Joseph swimmer Stein headed to national meet with Edinboro
Holly Stein knows there is a better chance of finding loose change under the seat cushions of her couch than on the floor of a bank.
Her first trip to the NCAA Division II national swimming championships, admittedly a surprise to the freshman from Edinboro, still carries great value.
And Stein isn't about to give back the opportunity — not one thin dime.
“Getting to nationals was a goal, but it's really hard to make it,” said Stein, a St. Joseph graduate and a PIAA bronze medalist as a senior. “Looking at it now, it's probably my biggest feat so far. I am looking at it as a way to gain experience. My coach said I have nothing to lose.”
Stein has qualified in two events for nationals, set for March 12-15 at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, but has her eye on her primary event, the 100-yard breaststroke. She is ranked No. 9 in the country in that event with her time of 1 minute, 3.06 seconds.
Stein pulled the plug on the school record in the 100 breast at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships, placing fourth.
She also will compete in the 200 breaststroke.
Having competed at the highest level of the sport in high school, Stein has big-stage experience, but she admits this is something new.
“There are a lot of fast people at PIAAs,” she said. “But I'll be going against some of the fastest swimmers in the country.”
Stein certainly had the talent to compete at the Division II level. Some might say the immediate impact she's had on the program was expected.
She was recruited by several Division I programs coming out of high school, where she competed as an independent since St. Joseph doesn't have a swimming team. Lafayette and Navy were among her pursuers.
“I was nervous coming in (to college swimming),” Stein said. “There are so many great athletes. But (qualifying) definitely has showed me I was ready. I am not going to lie; competing against those great athletes in intimidating.”
Stein is a human performance major and stresses that she is in college for academics first, swimming second. Still, simply being around other humans has helped her progress in the pool.
There was a time when she represented her entire high school. She was St. Joseph swimming.
“It's nice to finally have a team around me,” she said. “Now I can turn to a teammate and talk to them when I am freaking out before hitting the blocks.”
Nerves won't be absent for Stein at the national meet, but she knows anything from here is a bonus.
“I'm nervous for any meet, but I'm also really excited,” she said. “I have to look at it as experience for next year. I want to go out and have fun with it.”