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How swimming became the springboard to success for Sydney Tribou

Sydney Tribou was a four-time America East All-Conference Team member during her four-year swimming career at the University of New Hampshire. (Courtesy: Sydney Tribou)

ORLANDO, Fla. (BVM) — As a kid born and raised in the Florida sun who lived on a lake and whose family spent every vacation on the beach, Sydney Tribou took to the water like a fish at a very young age. As is typical of a lot of Florida kids, she learned to swim before she learned to read.

Summer days were filled with swimming lessons in the mornings, while afternoons were spent at the pool. When the rest of her family was dried off and ready to go, Sydney’s parents always had to fish her out of the pool laced with various threats of what would happen if she didn’t get out of the water…NOW.

In the second grade, the little fish broke her ankle and the doctors said daily swimming would be the best physical therapy. With the broken ankle serving as the catalyst and already realizing her ability, Sydney’s parents enrolled her in an Orlando swim club where she learned the intricacies of competitive swimming.

Her wardrobe consisted of more swimsuits than school uniforms. Her hair slowly turned the prized and sun-bleached blonde with just a tint of that “chlorine green.” Her coaches soon recognized Sydney was not just another Florida kid who loved the water, but one who had incredible potential.

As grade school turned into middle school, she spent weekends traveling to tournaments, with the annual Junior Olympics in the picture each year. And soon the medals and trophies began to flow in. Sydney did it all: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, relay. But she really excelled in freestyle.

As high school rolled around, the Junior Nationals and the U.S. Open Swimming Championships all loomed large on the horizon. She was recognized as one of the top 75 in the country in her age group. And as is dominant in every high school student’s thoughts, what happens next? For Sydney, college was not a mere consideration — nor an option — it was an absolute. But the cost of a four-year education certainly comes into play.

With her academic achievements and most assuredly through her swimming ability, a full-ride college swimming scholarship was clearly on her radar. And Sydney Tribou was on the radar of several top college swimming programs in the country. She chose to head to the Northeast, to the University of New Hampshire, where winters rarely inch above freezing, and where she quickly became a conference star in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard butterfly and the one mile.

Sydney was a four-time America East All-Conference Team member during her four seasons with the Wildcats and still holds longstanding pool records scattered throughout the Northeastern United States.

College graduation brings decision time and, as the NCAA televised commercials tout, “There are more than 400,000 NCAA student athletes and just about all of them will be going pro in something other than sports.” But Sydney still loved the water and the thrill of competition. Since the eighth grade she had taught private swimming lessons and helped coach a variety of teams, including prep school, club and developmental teams for swimmers with a lot of promise.

For Sydney, the logical progression after college was to coach. In 2014, she was named the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs at Regis College in Weston, Mass., a traveling position she held for two years. Realizing all good things must come to an end, and not necessarily wanting to coach at the collegiate level as a career, she simultaneously got her master’s degree, at which point she packed up her suits and her stopwatch, her trophies and her titles, and headed back to Orlando, Fla. where it all began.

Despite pursuing a completely different career, Sydney, 29, still teaches private lessons and helps coach swimming at a local prep school. In fact, she’s now coached teams in three different states at every level except the Olympics.

Swimming is a sport people can grasp before they learn to read and for Sydney Tribou, it was swimming that became the springboard to success throughout her life.

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