In terms of accolades alone, Wyrick is on or near the top of Amherst’s list of all-time best athletes. Since she first dove into Pratt Pool three seasons ago, Wyrick has been named Rookie of the Year (2001-2002), earned the team’s High Point Award last season, gathered four All-American plaques, tallied four college records (100- and 200-yard breaststroke, and 100-and 200-yard individual medley), one pool record and one conference record and resided on the First Team All-NESCAC squad several times.
Those kinds of awards are a product of more than mere athleticism. The breaststroke and individual medley specialist has spent the past decade and a half honing her technique and building up her strength. The fact that Wyrick was deciding between Amherst and West Point when applying to schools speaks to her intense dedication in all her endeavors.
“Jill Wyrick is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever met. She simply does not understand the concept of limits,” said co-captain Jaime Fisher ’04 “Her physical strength is, of course, an important part of her swimming success but her mind is the key element. She never doubts that she can win, even when going up against someone who has a faster time then her heading into the race. She will simply go faster.”
Wyrick hails from Avon, Conn., but her swimming has taken her far beyond the borders of her state. By the time she was 11, Wyrick was swimming for a club team year-round while juggling swim practice with her second love, basketball. That same year, she qualified for Junior Nationals in the 100-meter breaststroke. In 10th grade, Wyrick chose to attend Mercersburg Academy in southern Pennsylvania, a boarding school known for excellence in swimming. There, Wyrick excelled with the help of 10 practices and three lifting sessions per week. However, despite being named team captain, Wyrick was unhappy with her overall swim experience.
It wasn’t until she got to Amherst that Wyrick found a coach, and a team, that motivated her to swim faster, farther and harder than ever before. “To say that I ‘get along well’ with [Head Coach Nichols] would be an understatement,” began Wyrick. “He is more than my coach, and I seriously consult with him in regard to every area of my life. Additionally, I hold his advice as probably the most influential over the decisions I make. He has never steered me wrong, in either swimming or other aspects of my life.” She continued, “It is way more fun at Amherst. In high school, I dreaded every practice. Here, I have achieved best times in every single event. I love the sport, and practice more than I ever have.”
Equally important to Wyrick are the ladies who swim alongside her. Whether it is bonding due to oppression, or bonding due to exaltation, Wyrick cited her teammates as some of the best friends she has ever had. “I think the women’s team has seen each other through some incredible highs, like beating Williams College, and some difficult times as well,” said Wyrick. “With the season coming to a close, I think we are starting to realize that we have become a lot better, both in and out of the water, as a result of our unity.” And while beating Williams is an unparalleled bonding moment, swimming the notorious “Naked 50” in Pratt Pool before NESCACs might come in a close second.
With the women’s swim team heading into NESCACs undefeated, look for the Jeffs, and especially Wyrick, to splash into the national scene this year in a big way.