ATLANTA, Ga -- Most student athletes would probably be more than happy to graduate from college with a nine individual championships and three team titles, others would be happy to have a job lined up after school.
Claire Pavlak has all of the above, and just added another line to her resume-US Olympic trial qualifier. She's the first swimmer from Division III Emory to ever qualify for the trials in Omaha this July.
There she'll be up against the fastest swimmers in the country.
"She's really charting new territory for us, it's exciting," said Emory swim coach Jon Howell.
The best part about her qualifying time? It wasn't even planned.
She thought her college career was over after her last nationals swim meet. She had finished 13 races in the previous four days. Then organizers at the meet decided to stage an impromptu time trial. Pavlak was tired, but she gave the 50 meter freestyle a try. With a time of 26.29 seconds, she made it.
"It was very unexpected and very exciting for me," Pavlak said of qualifying for the trials. "But I think that's when I swim best, when I don't really put any pressure on myself."
The pressure's on for the trials this summer, where she'll be competing in the 50 meter freestyle. but her coach is confident. He's watched her work over the last four years.
He said even through her toughest 12-hour days on campus, he never took it easy on her. He said she was a "master of balance" on the team, and will be missed.
"She's helped raise the bar on the team, and I think she'll leave a lot of legacy behind in that regard," Howell said.
Pavlak graduates on Monday, and will be a student marshal at her school's commencement ceremony. As for life after college, she has a marketing job lined up starting in July. Her advice for incoming students?
"I think it's always better to work hard and have fun," Pavlak said. "Do what you're interested in. You don't need to be pre-med or pre-business to be successful and get a job after you graduate."