Recently, a Zimbabwean student-athlete made headlines both at her university and in Zimbabwe for her accomplishments in her sport. Lorna Doorman, a Junior at Mars Hill University is a swimmer who has with hard work and consistency excelled both in the classroom and in the pool.
Last year alone, Lorna’s relay team set a college record in the 800 yard freestyle. The Mars Hill women’s swim team went on to have an undefeated season with Lorna earning podium positions in 100, 500 and 1000 yard freestyle events along the way. Lorna went on to be selected for the the Zimbabwe National Team that participated in the 14th FINA World Swimming Championships held in Hangzhou, China from December 11-16th 2018. A huge accomplishment, at the World Short Course Championships Lorna placed 4th in Heat Two of the 200 meter event with a time of 2:12.83 and 2nd in heat one of the 400 meter with a time of 4:39.58.
As significant as her swimming accomplishments have been in the last year alone, Lorna is also an exceptional student who carries a 3.95 out of 4.0 GPA. She is studying biology (biomedical concentration) with 2 minors (Chemistry and Pre-professional studies). She truly embodies the epitome of a student-athlete. Not only did we want to find out more about how she does it all, but we also wanted to put a spotlight on her and all the hard work she has put in both as an international student and an athlete who has represented Zimbabwe at a high level. In a recent interview, Lorna shared her perspectives and very valuable advice that potential student-athletes should note.
EM- Tell us briefly about your journey to the US. How did you end up in your current school and state?
My journey to the U.S. started when I was in Lower 6 at Peterhouse Girls. I joined the Student Athlete Cohort and began the process of getting all the information I needed in order to start talking to coaches in the U.S., as well as starting to research about different universities mainly using College Board. During August of Upper 6, I began emailing coaches from multiple universities. Right before I started writing my A levels in October 2016, I received a reply from the Mars Hill swimming coach. I was offered to join the team the following August, but the coach also said I could join the team in January. After many discussions with my family and also advice from everyone at Education Matters, I decided I would enroll in January.
EM- You are in your Junior year at Mars Hill University as a student-athlete. Please share how you have been finding life as a Division 2 Swimmer, perhaps what a typical day looks like for you.
I enjoy life as a D2 student-athlete! I like that there is a balance between school work and sport. Sometimes balancing the two can get hard, especially when you are in the middle of your season, have lots of away meets, and finals are coming up, but I have found that planning in advance has helped. My day typically begins with 5:30-7am practice, classes between 8am and 3pm (with breaks in there), practice from 3:15 to about 5pm and then homework from 7pm.
EM- What are some of the misconceptions you had in Zimbabwe about swimming/sport as a student-athlete in the United States?
I had always thought that swimming was a very serious sport in the U.S., and it is, but I was surprised at how much fun there is in the sport, especially at meets. Swim meets are usually just between two universities, except for about 2/3 larger meets a year, and so there is a lot of team spirit at the meets with teammates cheering you on right on the pool deck. Another misconception I had about sport in the U.S. was that student-athletes would plan their academics around their sport, but from what I have experienced as a D2 student-athlete, many times this is not the case. There is a lot of emphasis put on academics (That’s why we are called STUDENT-athletes!).
EM- What advice would you give to any potential student-athletes looking to study and play sport in the US?
Don’t think that you only have to go to a top D1 school; rather find a school that you believe will suit you and your skill set most. Also, remember that you will have to give attention to your studies because if your grades are not where they are supposed to be then you will not be eligible to compete in your sport. If a coach wants you to join the team in January, don’t be afraid to do so especially if you have no specific plans for the 8 months after finishing high school.
EM- Please share some of your goals, aspirations and what you are looking to accomplish on a personal level well.
My goals swimming wise are just to make the most of my last year competing in the sport, whilst still trying to get faster. On a personal level, after graduating in May 2020 I hope to attend graduate school to study Physical Therapy and so many of my goals at the moment are geared towards that.
Lorna’s is a story that is not shared enough – a talented Zimbabwean student-athlete who put in every effort to secure a swimming scholarship at a Division II school where she found the right environment to grow both athletically and academically. We are incredibly proud of all she has and continues to do and we wish her all the best on her journey!
To read more about Lorna and her collegiate career and accomplishments you can visit this website
To follow Lorna on her journey on Instagram search lornadoorman98