Streamline Swimming: A Conversation with NCAA All-American Courtney Bartholomew

Streamline Swimming:
A Conversation with NCAA All-American Courtney Bartholomew

Courtney Bartholomew

Courtney Bartholomew

By Julia Galan

At Swimspire, we love hearing stories and adventures from swimmers, coaches and teams around the world. Some of our favorites include the entrepreneurial initiatives of high-level athletes who want to stay connected to the sport, even beyond their own swimming careers. One of these swimmers is NCAA All-American Courtney Bartholomew. A backstroke champion whose accolades include breaking Nathalie Coughlin’s American record in the 100 backstroke, Courtney is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied and swam on an athletic scholarship. Her decision to retire from the sport in 2015 surprised many, but Courtney had accomplished the goals she set for herself and was ready to move on with her life. And yet, Courtney was not abandoning the swimming world. Instead, she chose to give back to the sport she loved and founded Streamline Swimming, a consulting service that seeks to help swimming families navigate the college placement process. We caught up with Courtney recently to hear more about her swimming story and her new initiative.

Julia Galan: Everyone has a unique swimming story. What is yours? How did you first become involved in the sport? What made you decide to take swimming to a higher competitive level?

Courtney enjoyed swimming from an early age

Courtney enjoyed swimming from an early age

Courtney Bartholomew: My parents signed me up for swim lessons at an early age, and when they saw that, despite not being very fast or very pretty, I could make it all the way across the pool, they signed me up for the swim team! I took swimming to a higher level when my first age group coach recognized that I had some talent and suggested to my parents that I move forward to a more advanced level with a different coach and team. From there, I realized that I could get a college scholarship and pay for my own education! Coming from a middle class family, I knew that getting as much financial aid as possible was important for my future.

At the University of Virginia, I was lucky enough to work with some of the best coaches in the United States and train alongside some of the fastest swimmers in the country and the world, such as Leah Smith and Germany’s Laura Simon, among others. With all of the positive support and encouragement around me, I was able to train well enough to break the 100 short course meters backstroke American record and join Team USA to break a World Record in the 400 SCM Medley relay at Duel in the Pool in 2015.

JG: What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

CB: For me, graduating from the University of Virginia with a double major is my greatest accomplishment. I was able to graduate from one of the best public institutions in the US in four years, completely debt free and with not one, but two degrees. Being given the opportunity to speak at my graduation ceremony, in front of 15,000 people, while being presented with the Louis A. Onesty Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award, was also an incredible experience. This award was given to an outstanding student athlete for their major contributions to the University community. My involvement with student programs and my athletic accomplishments allowed me to be awarded this honor.

Courtney and her parents

Courtney and her parents

JG: Conversely, what has been the most difficult obstacle you’ve faced?

CB: On a personal level, my parents’ divorce between my freshman and sophomore year, was a very difficult obstacle for me, affecting my swimming, home and school life, and my mental health. Being able to deal with my feelings in a mature and understanding way was an obstacle I worked on for many years. I still struggle with this, although seeing that both of my parents are now very happy is wonderful.

JG: Tell us about Streamline Swimming – what does your service provide and how did you come up with this idea?

CB: Streamline Swimming was founded to help swimming families navigate and manage the college placement process. As I was traveling around the United States for swim clinics with the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour, or warming up at a swim meet, swimmers and parents would approach me asking for advice on the college recruiting process. With all of the information that is available online, I was curious as to why so many individuals were experiencing the same challenges. After some research, I began to realize that it’s not about the individuals themselves, it is more about the process that parents and swimmers are being asked to do. The college recruiting process is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, only without all the pieces, or without a picture on the box to guide you.

With Streamline Swimming, Courtney hopes to help swimmers and their families with the college scholarship process

With Streamline Swimming, Courtney hopes to help swimmers and their families with the college scholarship process

My goal as a college consultant is mentor swimmers and families through this complex college recruiting process to help them make well-informed and sound decisions that will ultimately enhance their overall swimming development, and lead to long-term success in life beyond swimming. I accomplish this by assisting swimmers and their families in comparing colleges and swimming programs based on the athlete’s needs and what programs are realistic for the athlete’s swimming ability. I work with the client on how to draft emails to coaches, how to respond to coaches, how to prepare to talk to coaches, how to prepare for an official/ unofficial visit, and what questions should be asked and when during the college process. I also explain the NCAA recruiting process in detail, including timelines and applicable rules. Essentially, I am happy to help my clients with anything regarding the college process academically or athletically, including applications for college.

JG: What made you decide to base yourself in Saint Augustine, Florida?

CB: My boyfriend, Nick, and I are both athletes. We first met at the University of Virginia, where he played golf while I was on the swim team. Nick has now moved on to playing professional golf,  which requires him to live in a location where golf can be played year round. Moving to Saint Augustine allows him to play on a beautiful golf course and to be close to his extended family in Jacksonville. I enjoy supporting his dream of playing on the PGA Tour – and I’m also tired of winter, so very happy to be here!

JG: Which schools are you currently working with for Streamline Swimming?

CB: I’m currently open to working with clients from all over the US and working on expanding my services to international clients who hope to attend college in the United States while swimming. Through client and personal connections, I have been lucky enough to be able to speak with the Bolles School Sharks and many other club teams throughout the country.

Courtney's record setting swim at Duel in the Pool

Courtney’s record setting swim at Duel in the Pool

JG: What would a typical consultation with Streamline Swimming look like?

CB: The initial consultation involves creating a “profile” for my client. This allows me to understand what my clients needs, desires, and goals are. I always start by asking my client if they enjoy the sport of swimming and if it is something they want to continue to pursue throughout college. This is a question I continue to ask through the process, as committing to a school to swim is a big decision and I always want to make sure I am putting my clients’ happiness before a scholarship or finding a school that is a good athletic and academic fit on paper.

After the initial consultation, typical consultations involve me working with the client to reach out to college coaches, refine and expand or remove schools from their college list, discussing the idea of being a self-advocate during the college process, discussing a school’s financial plans and major offerings, and any other questions the client may have.

JG: What are your goals for the future – both for the business and for yourself?

Best of luck to Courtney and Streamline Swimming!

Best of luck to Courtney and Streamline Swimming!

CB: For Streamline Swimming, my main goal is to try to help the swimming community become better educated about the college recruiting process and to show athletes that it IS possible to swim through college if they want to! I’m working towards hopefully helping my business expand both in the United States and around the world.

Personally, I want to travel more in the coming years and learn different sports to participate in outside of swimming. On my bucket list right now:  hiking in Machu Picchu and snorkeling and scuba diving in the Caribbean!

Thanks for your time, Courtney! We’re wishing all the best to Streamline Swimming. For more information, please visit Courtney’s website at: www.streamline-swimming.com

 

 

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