by Jeff Samoray, Published January 25, 2012
Briana Emig's competitive spirit burns with intensity both in the classroom and in the pool.
Emig is a junior psychology and communications major with a 3.91 grade-point average. She's also an Academic All-Mid-American Conference freestyle distance swimmer. The discipline she's developed has given her the mindset that you never really reach your goals-you just keep raising the bar.
"My two brothers play tennis and hockey and my sister is also athletic," says Emig, who began competing as a swimmer at age 8. Since her high school didn't have a swim team, she competed with club teams near her home town in Pennsylvania. Several colleges recruited Emig during her senior year, but she had a pretty good idea where she was headed.
"I have an older cousin from Ohio who swam for Eastern and I attended her meets," Emig says. "Coach [Peter] Linn made a big impression on me, as did Eastern's entire athletic program. I chose to attend Eastern because I liked its smaller size, athletic program and academics. It met my checklist of requirements."
In her first two years, Emig earned All-MAC first and second team selections. This year, she cranked it up a notch, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400 and 800-meter freestyle. Last December, she earned MAC Female Scholar Athlete of the Week honors following record times set in the 1,650 freestyle at the EMU Invitational.
"I was so excited about qualifying for the Olympic Trials," says Emig, who earned qualifying times at the USA Swimming Nationals and at a meet last summer at the University of Michigan. "It's every swimmer's dream."
Emig also aspires to help at-risk youth as a counselor or therapist and plans to earn a graduate degree in psychology.
"All my hard work is starting to pay off," she says. "My initial goal was just to get to the Olympic Trials. But I'm not satisfied with qualifying in just two events - I want to qualify for all of them.
Emig puts pressure on herself, but only in terms of setting new personal goals. The stakes will become higher in June when the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials begin in Omaha, Neb.
"I'll be more excited than nervous," she says. "It will be a fun experience and I'll do my best to perform at the highest level."
To view a video about Briana Emig please visit http://www.emich.edu/video/index.php?id=P188_recent