Mary St. John aims for spot in swimming championship

Junior Mary St. John aims for a top spot in the UAA Championships to qualify for the NCAA Championships. (credit: CMU Athletics) Junior Mary St. John aims for a top spot in the UAA Championships to qualify for the NCAA Championships. (credit: CMU Athletics)

“Whatever work I put in, I get out directly.”

This is how junior mathematical sciences major Mary St. John describes why she has stuck with swimming since she was first drawn to the sport at age three. It defines her involvement in the Carnegie Mellon Swimming and Diving team, putting her utmost effort into preparation for her races and cheering on her teammates when the matches are over. It equally applies to her efforts in the classroom, preparing for a career she believes will help make a considerable impact.

St. John readily admits that she’s the type of person who has always been in the world of sports, owing this to the influence of her brother and her father. Always looking up to her brother, she took up swimming and was immediately drawn to the fact that she was in full control of how far she could go in a mostly individual sport with a team aspect. While St. John took up other sports including field hockey, soccer, and diving, she ultimately chose to stick with swimming. “I’m definitely a stronger swimmer,” she said when asked if she had considered diving at Carnegie Mellon. “It was a stretch to think about doing both. Besides, practices conflict, so I understand why I couldn’t.”

When asked about why she was drawn to Carnegie Mellon, St. John emphasized the desire for balance in her life. “I wanted a school that was in a city so there would be other things to do outside of campus. Pittsburgh was a good balance, and Carnegie Mellon had a good balance between strong academics and a swim program I wanted.” She also mentioned her interest in the School of Drama, saying she was “excited to see what shows they could put on.”

It’s also extremely clear that her passion and determination has driven her in day-to-day life. “We have 5:30 practice. I pack food for before and after. Snacks are key. They get me through practice and academics.” Her daily routine lays the foundation for her performances at meets, and the results show. In the 2015–16 season, St. John finished first on the team in the 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard Individual Medley, and 400-yard IM, making the All-University Athletic Association (UAA) third team for the butterfly.

Her proudest accomplishment with the sport comes from her performance in the 2016 UAA Championships. Though she did not perform to her expectations on the first two days, she persevered and ended up finishing in first for the 200-yard butterfly. “I think it was really important to finish strong.”

Thinking about the future, St. John mentioned wanting to go into data science and specifically for the government. “My grandfather was an aeronautical engineer for NASA, which seemed cool to me even though I didn’t want to be an engineer. I want to make a big impact with statistical analysis, not just make people money.”

For now, St. John is focused on the upcoming UAA Championships. “I hope to swim really fast and get invited to nationals.”

St. John will next swim with the Tartan women at the UAA Championships from Wednesday, Feb. 8 to Saturday, Feb. 11.