Jumping Right In

Swimmer Jessika Luth '01 is making the most out of all that is offered at Lafayette.

Senior Jessika Luth is constantly working to improve herself in the pool and in the classroom.

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Nov. 3, 2000

EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Jessika Luth came to Lafayette three years ago ready for a change. But her time at Lafayette could be looked at as more of a transformation than an adjustment. The senior history and geology major is working on her honors thesis in history this fall while also participating in the outdoor and history clubs. She's also a captain of this year's women's swimming and diving team and she does volunteer work for the city of Easton.

The Marquis Scholar who boasts a 3.96 grade-point average has no problem taking on challenges at Lafayette. For anyone else in her high school graduating class, just showing up on College Hill would be an adventure.

"I grew up on the West Coast and always knew I wanted to go to an East Coast school," the San Jose, Calif., native said. "I wanted to experience all of the differences: the culture, the people and the climate. I really wanted to see a snowfall."

It was Luth's curiosity and interest in culture and geography that led her to study abroad last semester in Australia and to travel with a group of similarly adventurous Lafayette students to Africa during last year's interim session. She said that traveling to Australia as a swimmer was a bit of a culture shock because of the emphasis the country puts on the sport when in America, swimming only seems to become nationally recognized around the time of the Olympics.

"It was just unbelievable to visit that place as a swimmer, especially when all the Olympic hype was at its peak. Swimmers are emulated and treated like celebrities there, so having such a high level of competition coming to the country in the summer for the Olympics...you can't even imagine the level of excitement that was in the air," she said.

Returning to Lafayette this fall, Luth was ready to continue being an active member of the College community. While working on her thesis this fall, which focuses on earthquake insurance, she is competing in the 100- and 200-meter fly and the 500- and 1650-meter free events on the swimming team after not competing at all last season due to her semester abroad.

"Being a member of the swim team at Lafayette is hard work, especially with the high level of academics that is expected of students here," Luth said. "But it doesn't really seem like work because we always try to keep it fun. That's one of my major goals as a senior and a captain this season, to keep everyone working hard but to always make the experience fun."

Named a team captain this season, Luth welcomed the challenge of playing such a major leadership role in the pool while remaining focused on her goals in the classroom. She says that the trust and respect that she receives from her teammates is worth the extra effort she puts into being a member of the team.

"Jessika is just a great student-athlete for us and she leads our team both in the pool and in the classroom," Lafayette head swimming coach Jim Dailey said. "She has an amazing work ethic that she brings to practice everyday and that commitment, along with a sense of loyalty and leadership, makes her an outstanding role model for our team."

The senior also believes that the support system at Lafayette, especially the professor-student relationship, has helped her excel and grow over the past three years. She admits that things can seem overwhelming but that her professors, and her coach, help ease the pressure by letting their students know that their doors are always open.

"It's hard to balance all of my activities sometimes but it's not like I'm busy doing things that I hate doing," Luth said of her lifestyle at Lafayette. "I like the small community we have on the campus and the people here are what make it so wonderful. We have a beautiful campus and outstanding academic and athletic reputations, but it's really the people here who make Lafayette such a great place."

Luth is focused on having fun this year as she closes out her career as a swimmer and a student at Lafayette. She looks to improve her personal bests in the pool this season while also continuing her success in the classroom and Dailey fully expects her to make the most out of the final year of her career.

"We all expect her to go out with style and surpass the marks she set in the pool last year. But more importantly, we expect her to close out her undergraduate degree and find whatever it is that will make her happy," he said.