Canadian freshman makes impact

Canada is known for many different things, but the Canadian product that the Rutgers swimming and diving team is most thankful for at the moment is freshman Chelsea Rolin.

Rolin, who grew up near Montreal, is the newest member of the Scarlet Knights after joining the team earlier this month.

In Montreal students graduate high school in 11th grade, then enter two years of prep school called "CEGEP" before attending college. Rolin changed programs during her first year of CEGEP, putting her a semester behind and delaying her arrival at Rutgers.

She was named the top female athlete in high school and top overall athlete in both of her years on the swim team. Rolin was also named top athlete on her CEGEP squad both years and led the team to a pair of division titles. She was recruited to swim by several Canadian universities, but decided to come to the United States after a recruiting visit a year ago on the Banks.

"A couple of American universities had contacted me, but nothing official," Rolin said. "Rutgers was one of the first schools I visited. I chose RU mainly because of the team. As soon as I met them I felt instantly connected, as if I was a part of something bigger."

Rolin faced the task of assimilating to changes in nearly every facet of her life upon arriving at Rutgers. She had to adjust to life as a college freshman, the culture shock of an entirely new country and the difficulty of joining a team past the midpoint of its season.

"Initially, I was extremely worried about joining the team in the middle of the season," Rolin said. "The team had already grown and bonded together, and I was scared that I wouldn't fit in or be welcomed. But as soon as I got here, the girls made me feel comfortable and like I was already a part of the team which made the transition that much easier."

She adapted seamlessly thanks to the support of her teammates, and the only shock has been the one that she delivers in the pool. Rolin made an instant impact for the Knights, grabbing two victories in her very first meet with the club earlier this month against Maryland.

"I was so nervous prior to the meet," Rolin said. "I was scared I would let my team down or that I wouldn't live up to everyone's expectations. I just wanted to make them proud."

Rolin not only lived up to her team's expectations, she exceeded them. She took first in the 400-meter freestyle finishing in 4:27.35 and won the 800-meter freestyle by 14 seconds with a time of 9:02.26.

"Chelsea has been a nice addition to the program," said head coach Phil Spiniello. "She has a great work ethic, and we look forward to her contribution to the program over the next four years."

In addition to looking forward to next month's Big East Championships in Louisville, Ky., she also has her sights set on qualifying for this year's NCAA Championships and the Canadian Olympic team in 2012.

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