After winning four state championships as part of the swim and dive team at Farmington Hills Mercy, Olivia Samoray thought she might be “done” swimming competitively.
While at Mercy, Samoray was a four-year letter winner and had earned multiple All-State and All-America honors before heading off to the University of Michigan to pursue a major in movement science.
Though Samoray may have been prepared to abandon the idea of swimming at the college level, before her freshman year was over, she realized she might not be quite ready to leave the sport.
After taking a trip to visit Mercy during her freshman year at college, Samoray had thoughts of swimming competitively again and decided to speak with U of M coach Mike Bottom about a chance to join the Wolverines.
After Bottom gave her the opportunity to have a try-out, Samoray earned a spot as a walk-on during her sophomore year at Michigan.
“It’s been really good,” Samoray said. “Knowing that if I set my mind to something, I can achieve it with hard work. It’s very inspiring for me for the future. It’s been awesome.”
Despite all the success Samoray had in the pool at Mercy, in this her first year swimming at the Division I college level, she has discovered a big difference in the level of competition she is up against.
“It’s been an adjustment,” she said. “The competitive level is so much different than high school. High school, you have so many levels of swimmers — people that swim year-round, people that joined since high school season. But college, everyone is good. It’s very intimidating at first, but lot of support with teammates. It’s really nice. I like it a lot.”
While there has been a period of adjustment and it has been “intimidating,” Samoray may have learned some lessons along the way that could help her in and out of the pool.
“I think if you work hard, it’ll pay off,” said Samoray, who indicated that she has received support from her parents, past teammates and coaches, including Mercy coach Shannon Dunworth. “Even with school, studying hard, I can see it pay off.”
The chance she has been given is one that Samoray expressed gratitude for.
“It makes me very grateful that I have the opportunity, especially after taking (last) year off, “ she said. “I’m thankful for that.”