Maddy Burt admittedly had an extremely tough decision to make when choosing a college.
The Marco Island resident and St. John Neumann junior made visits to Florida State, Auburn and Arizona, saying she liked different aspects about all three schools.
But a simple gesture made by the University of Arizona swim team may have pushed the Wildcats over the top.
“The entire team greeted me at the airport,” Burt said. “They were the only school that did that and I really appreciated it. It was late in the evening and they had practice and schoolwork and all that, yet everyone was there. That showed me how close a team it was and how much they cared about the program.”
Burt announced her choice via an Instagram post on her 17th birthday last week, saying she’s relieved to have the decision out of the way. Now, she can focus on her schoolwork and upcoming national meets.
“I’m practicing super hard for some national meets and I’m making sure I do the absolute best I can in school to keep my grades where I want them,” she said. “But it does take a little pressure off. At some of those bigger (national) meets, college coaches would watch. I really don’t have to worry about impressing anyone. Just go out there and swim as fast as I can.”
She said she’s looking forward to competing in the Pac-12 in a few years, the fastest swimming conference in the country.
“I’ll be going up against girls from Stanford, Cal, USC, which are all big-time swimming schools,” Burt said. “It’s going to be fun to see how I match up with the best in the nation.”
She also has one more season left at St. John Neumann, where she has four individual medals at the Class 1A state meet in the last three years. She has finished second in the 100-meter butterfly in back-to-back years, so a state gold would give her a proper sendoff to college.
“Winning isn’t everything, but to get that gold medal in my senior year will be a goal of mine,” she said. “It would be a great way to go out.”