PAULA CAPUTO — General Assisngment Reporter
Swimming makes a person learn who they are and how far they are willing to go, said Owls senior swimmer Austin Mizzell.
Mizzell started swimming in seventh grade just to keep active and stay in shape. Shortly after, he came to the realization that it was more than just a sport—it was a passion.
“I actually played football before that, like every other kid,” Mizzell said. “I started off in soccer and played a little bit of that, but once I got into the pool I knew that’s where I had to be.”
As a sophomore in 2009, Mizzell set two pool records in winning the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke at the Bentley Invitational. This year at the Bentley Invitational, Mizzell helped lead the Owls to a first-place team finish by finishing first in the 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke and 500 yard freestyle.
Mizzell said that although he loves winning and works hard to do so, his teammates and friends are the true source of his success.
“My peers are my motivation,” Mizzell said. “My friends make me want to go as a fast as I do; they’re really motivating and once you win, you can’t not win. You have to win every time.”
Mizzell’s training regimen consists of practice seven days a week, twice a day. Early morning practices are at 6 a.m., followed by the afternoon practices at 2 p.m. According to Mizzell, it’s a way of life and it’s what he needs to do in order to win.
“Everyone wants to be the best,” Mizzell said. “You just got to keep that focus every day right when you’re about to jump in the pool. You got to know what you want, what you’re willing to do and how far you’ll go.”
Fellow teammate Matthew Sorena said Mizzell is a big encourager for the team and keeps everything fun.
“He brings a lot of energy to team camaraderie,” Sorena said. “He’s good at bringing the team together and keeping a good motivating atmosphere.”
Sorena said Mizzell is the “go-to” guy when the team needs to win the pressure races, and he’s a huge contributor to the relays being one of the team’s top guys.
“We don’t necessarily expect it,” Sorena said, “but he is easy to go to when we’re looking for a win or when we’re looking for some sort of encouragement or motivation.”
Mizzell has a crazy, unexplainable driven factor about him, according to Sorena. He goes for it and if he’s not going all out, it’s not good enough.
Head swimming coach Tim Quill said Mizzell is a ferocious competitor and has proven himself over and over again. He said Mizzell is a seasoned veteran and he knows what he needs to do to get himself prepared to race big at the end of the year.
“He wins, and when you’re winning, you’re an asset,” Quill said. “He goes a lot further than just winning. He’s a role model and he sets a good example for the rest of the athletes. The freshmen look up to the returners and whether he wants to be a role model or not, he has to be. I think he’s done a good job of it.”
Quill said Mizzell has grown over his four years of swimming at Southern and not just as an athlete, but outside of the water as well.
“He’s matured a lot since his freshman year,” Quill said. “He obviously has performed the best of any breaststroker in the history of Southern Connecticut, so I think that his performance has been good, but I also think that he’s grown a lot since he was a freshman.”
According to Quill, Mizzell’s abilities and ambition are what makes him the athlete that he is.
“He’s very talented,” Quill said. “For anyone to swim five, six, seven miles a day, you need to be talented enough to handle it. He has a natural talent, but the fact is, he knows what he needs to do on a daily basis to become a better athlete. And for the most part I think he fulfills that job.”