Somerset's Stephanie LeMire accepts swimming scholarship from Miami University
Stephanie LeMire chose a great swimming pool over swimming on Florida's beaches.
The Somerset High School senior last week accepted a full-ride scholarship offer to swim at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
LeMire has been swimming competitively since she was 9 years old and she is one of the top youth swimmers in Minnesota. She swims for the St. Croix Swim Club out of Stillwater.
LeMire attended Hill-Murray High School in St. Paul as a freshman, but decided to return home for her final three years of high school. LeMire had already established herself as one of the top high school swimmers in Minnesota as a freshman. She decided it would be more challenging to continue swimming with the St. Croix Swim Club year-round.
LeMire holds a Minnesota state record in the 13-14 age group. She has faced extremely strong competition in the Minnesota ranks, including 2012 United States Olympian Rachel Bootsma. LeMire won the Minnesota state championship in the 15-16 age group last summer in the 200 meter breaststroke.
LeMire said she will concentrate on the breaststroke, her strongest event, in college. She said living 12 hours away from home won't be difficult, because she has travelled so much for swimming. She has swum at the national level since she was 12. She has been sponsored by Nike since then, which has helped with her expenses in traveling to national meets and for her swim equipment.
The time demands of her swim career have been steep. She practices several hours every day and she has travelled most weekends to swim meets.
"She's given up a lot," said her mom, Kelly. "She's missed a lot of the (Somerset) football games and that's practically killed her."
The recruiting process was long and arduous with 180 different colleges contacting LeMire. She was receiving 20 phone calls per day. She initially whittled down her list to 20. Recruits are allowed five paid college visits and LeMire used those to visit Texas Christian (TCU), Miami, Colorado State, West Virginia and Pacific.
The colleges pulled out all stops in the recruiting process. LeMire got to meet many dignitaries, but the one who stood out to her was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy. Her trip to Colorado State was timed so she could see Somerset graduate Megan Plourde and the CSU volleyball team play against UCLA.
LeMire said her love of Somerset football was a factor in the recruiting. She wanted to go to a college that had a strong football program because she knew how fun cheering for a winning football team can be at the high school level.
Miami has a strong swim program. It also has a state-of-the-art pool. That was important to LeMire because many of Miami's meets are at home because of their top facilities. That means she will travel far less than if she was swimming at other universities.
Miami has high academic requirements, including an ACT minimum score requirement of 26, which impressed LeMire. She said she plans to study science and biology and is considering a pre-dental course of studies.