Senior swimmer Mason puts in work

By Alison Hamila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Friendly, tough and loyal are the three words Emily Mason uses to best describe herself.

The "tough" and "loyal" anyone can see from watching her swimming and her success, but the "friendly" is something you have to meet her to experience.

Senior swimmer Emily Mason is just one of those people.

One of those people that from the second you meet her makes you feel at ease and completely comfortable. The best part about her is that she really is just an average person.

An average person with extraordinary talent.

"She has been someone who is so tough and so gifted; she is one of the best dual meet swimmers that I have had," said Arizona head coach Frank Busch who has been at the Wildcat helm the last 16 seasons.

Emily brings to the table every day dedication and heart. She says the best thing a swimmer can do is work hard because there is no better feeling than being exhausted, because then you know you are improving. In addition, Emily says that what most people don't know about swimming is that a workout can consist of 10 miles of training.

Emily is a clear byproduct of her very own philosophy, showing that hard work can pay off, continually putting up first-place points for the Wildcats this season.

Emily is the reigning 400-meter freestyle NCAA champion, setting a new NCAA record last year, 4:01.58. She hopes to repeat this accomplishment in the 400m freestyle at this year's championships, as well as to challenge in the 400m individual medley and move up in rank in the 200m butterfly.

Emily's success, although great, has left her grounded and levelheaded, saying that during her four years at Arizona, she has learned many invaluable lessons.

"I've learned that I'm a good enough swimmer and that it is OK to hold back; using something Frank calls easy speed, that I do not have to use all my energy at once," Emily says.

She has always had a competitive nature, saying her favorite and least favorite part of the sport is competing because you can't always win. Since the age of 5, when Emily picked up the sport because of, she says, her lack of coordination, she has had a sense of victory, challenging anyone and wanting to beat them.

After this season ends, Emily says that she will definitely swim throughout the summer and perhaps try to do some triathlons.

"As long as my body permits me, I want to swim, and I would like to try for the 2008 Olympics as well," she says.

Outside of the realm of swimming, Emily is a journalism major with a minor in athletic coaching. She hopes to write for the Phoenix-based magazine Swimming World.

When she talks about her family, her eyes get brightest.

She admires all of the women in her family, saying they all do such great things for other people.

Emily's mom, a fourth-grade teacher, is the one whom Emily admires most.

"I always tell her that she is great because she is preserving the livelihood of the youth by being a teacher; I just want her to know that I love her," Emily says.

Emily is looking forward to the end of the season, and after she leaves she hopes her legacy will be a simple one.

"I want to be remembered for all my hard work, dedication and always coming prepared for practice and giving my best effort," Emily says.

The legacy is already taking shape; the tough, loyal and friendly swimmer is, according to Busch, one of the best swimmers in the Pacific 10 Conference and as good as anyone.