Dec 11, 2017
BUCKHANNON -- Wesleyan's swim teams have made some major jumps in talent and performance in recent seasons. There is a small core group of seniors that have witnessed the transformation in its entirety.
On the current roster, there only eight seniors. This includes distance specialist Theresa Burgess, one of the most dynamic individuals in the program. Her talent and involvement beyond sports, makes her one of the most involved athletes on campus, not just with the swimming program.
A native of York, Pennsylvania, Burgess was primarily involved in dance and gymnastics as a young athlete. By the time she was in the fifth grade, she decided to put her full focus into the pool.
"It was a family decision," Burgess explained. "The volume of practice time and travel that was involved in doing all the sports became pretty tough and was also very expensive. It was in my best interest to cut something out, so we decided to devote full attention to swimming."
Burgess initially joined the club team Bobcat Aquatics as a pre-teen. The team was sponsored by neighboring Northeastern High School, and encompassed a wide range of age groups. She used this opportunity to grow as a swimmer, and gained some valuable experience racing against some solid competition.
As an eighth grader, Burgess moved to a club affiliated with her soon-to-be high school, Central York. She officially joined Central York Aquatics in 2009, and raced with many of her future teammates at CYHS.
At Central York, Burgess' squad raced in the rugged District Three; a district that annually produces some of the best teams and individuals in Pennsylvania. She became a district qualifier in both the 200 and 500-free races and also the 400-free relay. Her efforts drew the attention of several schools.
During her senior season, Burgess had narrowed down her choices down to four schools; Clarion, East Stroudsburg, American, and Wesleyan. She had visited WVWC in August before her senior year, and came back for an official visit after narrowing her choices.
As fate would have it, her trip to Wesleyan came after a bad experience at one of the other schools.
"I felt really at home with the team here and I fell in love with the campus," Burgess said. "In Coach April (Gitzen), I saw the three favorite coaches I had ever had wrapped up into one individual."
In choosing Wesleyan, Burgess has been through an incredible transition with the program. The team has bounced from the large Bluegrass Swim Conference, to the slightly smaller Appalachian Swim Conference, to this year's formation of the MEC/GMAC Swim Conference. Along the way, the team has added valuable talented pieces to the roster.
"When I first came, I was one of the top distance swimmers," Burgess said. "Now we are much deeper, and there is a lot of competition in each practice and within each event area. It has been amazing to witness how it has came along."
With the Fall portion of the schedule in the books, Wesleyan is 4-0 in dual meet competitions, and finished as runner-up in the seven-team Corbiere-Merion Invitational. The success has gone beyond the wins, there is a definitive feel of family and support within the program.
Burgess' is very active at Wesleyan. Her star shines well beyond her exploits in the pool. She is a History Major that has a possible interest in law school. One of her interests lies in working in family law.
In working with Wesleyan theater productions, she has worked several times with the lighting and tech aspects of these shows. She did make an on stage appearance in last spring's Short Works' Festival. She is a member of the theater honorary Alpha Psi Omega.
In Greek Life, she has served as an active member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. She has been playing violin since third grade, and is active with the Wesleyan Music program when her swim practics allow. This includes participation with the choir. She is also a member of the music honorary Sigma Alpha Iota.
She is truly the "Renaissance Woman" of Wesleyan.
With leaders on the team like the diminutive Theresa Burgess, the Wesleyan Swim programs of Coach April Gitzen is in good hand