OAK HARBOR – Oak Harbor senior Sarah Chovanec got involved in swimming as part of the Rocket Swim Club during her elementary years.
Several years later, Chovanec stands as one of just a few seniors in the school swim program and has been an important part of the girls’ team success all four years of her high school career.
Chovanec also played tennis for the Rockets the last three years and earned three varsity letters along with being named to the ALL-SBC 2nd Team this past fall at first doubles with Chelsea Heaps.
“Sarah is just a super young lady,” tennis coach Richard LaFountain said. “Sarah is very smart and will do great at college next year.”
LaFountain also mentioned that Chovanec has another talent that tickles his taste buds during the summer months.
“Sarah makes the best flurries,” said LaFountain.
Chovanec has worked at Barnside Creamery the past two summers and said she hopes to work there again this summer.
“Cheesecake is my favorite flurry (to make) with some strawberry or raspberry sauce,” Chovanec said.
When Chovanec isn’t busy serving up a bit of sweetness to her customers, she’s spreading her sweet spirit others around her.
“Sarah is sweet, kind, and quiet,” said Oak Harbor swim coach Andrea Sorg. “The girls’ team is comprised of mostly underclassmen and Sarah’s experience and calm nature is a guiding force. She is all around a great, coachable kid.”
Chovanec noted that she has been involved in every event except the 100-breaststroke and 200-freestyle during her four years.
Whether rotating between the medley relay, the 200 relay, or the 400-relay teams, or participating in the individual events such as the 100-butterfly, 100-backstroke, or 200 IM, Chovanec has provided a spark for her team over the years.
While lettering all four years of swimming, Chovanec also was a part of the 2016-2017 Sandusky Bay Conference Championship team.
“I like that (swimming) is self-paced and an individual sport,” Chovanec said. “However, in the end it involves teamwork to win the meet.”
Chovanec’s hard working mentality has not only paid off on in the pool, but also the classroom.
As a 3.8 student who enjoys math, Chovanec plans on pursuing chemical engineering or aerospace engineering in college.
“I like math because I can solve the problem,” Chovanec said. “Memorization is not my strong suit.”
Balancing education and athletics has not always been easy for Chovanec, but it has taught some strong life lessons.
“You have to be motivated and be able to motivate yourself,” said Chovanec. “If you get down on yourself nobody is there to replace your spot on the team. Everyone has to put their work in to make the team successful.”
Chovanec also noted that swimming takes preparation both in season and out of season.
“There is year round swimming at Oak Harbor,” Chovanec said. “I’d say that conditioning has been my biggest challenge. I go to Terra State full-time so it is hard taking college classes while balancing a sport that takes lots of time and lots of energy both mentally and physically.”
Another valuable lesson Chovanec has learned during her high school tenure is a lesson many people deal struggle with.
“Procrastination,” said Chovanec. “I always wait until the last minute to do almost everything and it shows with my swimming career. I waited until this last year to get really serious, and now I regret it.”
Chovanec stated that this has caused her to have to put in a little extra work this season.
“Now I am trying my hardest to break bad habits in and out of the pool,” Chovanec said. “I try to leave a little early when I go to class maybe to study or do some homework, and in the pool, I do as much as I possibly can to try and better myself.”
Fortunately for Chovanec, there are others around her that help encourage her and spur her on.
One such person is team-mate Tiffany Ozanski.
“(Tiffany) is a hard worker and is always up for a challenge,” said Chovanec. “I enjoy doing drylands with her because we motivate each other to keep going and work together and have fun with it.”
Chovanec also praised the rest of her team in working together and making the swim program feel more unified.
“I absolutely love the team this year,” Chovanec said. “It feels like one big family and all four years of swimming I have never felt the bond this team holds. Usually there are little cliques, but not this year.”
This is something Chovanec said she and another team-mate have worked on.
“Gabby Sharkey and I are really working on including everyone and trying to push people out of their comfort zone,” said Chovanec. “I think because we bond so well with each other we will do great this year because everyone pushes each other to be better and nobody is discouraging to anyone.”
A family environment is something that Chovanec is passionate about for several reasons.
“It inspires me seeing large families that always have each other’s backs and being close with one another,” Chovanec said. “I really want to do well in school so I can have a good education and provide for my family.
“I would love to create a large family because I never had a large family, or really had a close relationship with my family like I see others have. I hope that I can provide for them and others in the future. I would love to spoil my kids because I don’t mind working, but I do wish I could make it to more social events and now have to worry about paying for a car and college, and I don’t want any of my family to have to worry about that.”
As Chovanec works towards her dreams, she’s working to close her high school career with a possible repeat of winning the conference championship.
“Last year was very exciting,” Chovanec said. “We just had fun and swam our little hearts out. I believe we have an even greater chance at winning this year because we are a very well-rounded team with many individuals who do well in their events.”