Riley Signing 2020

Freedom senior Riley Carswell recently signed with Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) for swimming starting in the 2020-21 school year. Flanking Carswell on the front row are her mother Heather Carswell (left) and her father Matt Carswell. Standing (from left) are Carswell's brother Nate Carswell and sister Kennedy Carswell, as well as FHS swim coach Dan St. Louis, principal Casey Rogers and current soccer coach and former cross country coach Adam Mazzolini.

Freedom’s two-time reigning girls athlete of the year has picked her college sport and destination.

A Lady Patriots’ standout in swimming, soccer and cross country over her prep career, senior Riley Carswell in staying in the pool as she heads to Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee.

“Sewanee is everything I dreamed of and more,” Carswell said. “The campus is beautiful with ancient stone buildings, grassy corridors and stained glass windows. I quickly discovered that the holistic ambiance of the community is welcoming, kind, friendly and, to put it simply, is completely filled with good-natured people. I am also extremely impressed with the sustainability and eco-friendly measures put into place, as 20 percent of the university’s food is grown on campus and the remaining 80 percent is locally grown.

“The final factor that makes Sewanee the perfect place for me is its athletic program. I met with their swimming and diving coaches and was instantly impressed.”

Just this past winter, Carswell was named the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference girls co-swimmer of the year. She was named all-conference in the 100 freestyle and the 50 freestyle. At the NCHSAA 3A West Regional, she set a new Lady Patriots program record in the 50 free and set a season-best time in the 100 free, also helping improve times for both the 200 medley and 400 free relay teams.

As a junior swimmer, Carswell set new Lady Patriot swim records in the 200 and 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke events. She also was part of all three record-setting relay teams. She won the 100 free and 100 back events at the NWC championships and set a new 100 back school record and a quick 100 free time at the 3A West Regional.

And as a sophomore, Carswell set FHS records in the 100 free and the 200 individual medley.

With the Tigers, Carswell will join a squad that finished fifth in the Southern Athletic Association championships last season and advanced to the NCAA Division III Regionals, led by head coach Max Obermiller.

“Sewanee has a coach that focuses almost exclusively on strength training in addition to the twice a day swim practices,” Carswell said. “I look forward to building my strength, which I hope will really increase my speed. And, of course, a goal would always be to make it onto the record board.

“As a multi-sport athlete, I have never had the opportunity to focus all my hard work and training into one sport, so I’m excited for the opportunity to reach for my potential as a swimmer at Sewanee.”

Academically at Sewanee, Carswell said she has been selected as a Hippocrates Fellow, geared toward students who plan to go to medical school. Her goal is to apply for and attend medical school upon graduation from Sewanee and begin a practice.

To get to where she is, along with where she plans to go, Carswell had several individuals from FHS who she specifically wanted to thank.

“I would like to thank (FHS swimming) coach Danny St. Louis for recognizing and tapping into my potential and for supporting me in and out of the pool throughout my life,” Carswell said. “I would like to thank (FHS soccer and cross country) coach (Adam Mazzolini) for being the light-hearted coach who always made practices and games fun, yet challenged us as a team.

“I have been enriched by many teachers and coaches at Freedom High School and I hope they know just how much they mean to me. In addition to these many teachers, I would specifically like to thank Mr. Timothy Fossett for pushing my academic boundaries beyond what I previously knew I was capable of, forcing me to go outside of my comfort zone and shedding light on the most valuable life lessons which I will carry with me forever. I would also like to thank the Bakers, (Brent and Kelly), for inspiring in me a love of math, as they are both phenomenal teachers and for the temporary unit circle tattoo.”

Justin Epley is a staff writer for The News Herald. He can be reached at jepley@morganton.com.

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