Swimmer Ann Carozza

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A specialist in the hardest stroke in swimming, Ann Carozza was a champion in and out of the pool during her college career.

After shining as an NCAA Division II star swimmer, Ann Carozza this month will attend the NCAA Convention as one of the Top 30 semifinalists for the Woman of the Year Award.

The 23-year-old graduated in May from West Chester University with a major in special education and a minor in autism education, and now works as a learning support teacher at Bayard Rustin High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She also is a volunteer assistant swim coach at her alma mater, and coaches at Westtown Aquatic Program and Roslyn Swim Club, both in West Chester.

Established in 1991, the NCAA Woman of the Year Award recognizes female student-athletes who have completed their undergraduate studies and distinguished themselves in their community, athletics and academics throughout their college careers. The Top 30 honorees include 10 from each of the three NCAA divisions, and were selected among a record-breaking 619 nominees.

“It feels surreal to be able to represent the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and West Chester University,” Carozza says. “My time at West Chester was the best years of my life, and I met the best people along the way. I could not be more thankful for my coaches, teammates, family and friends, who have been there for me throughout my journey.”

Carozza is a two-time NCAA Division II national champion, with victories in the 200-yard butterfly in 2022 and 2023. She is the Division II record holder in the 100 butterfly (52.06) and 200 butterfly (1:55.98).

“People always say butterfly is the hardest stroke,” she muses. “For me it was always my favorite. You have to have strong shoulders and upper body muscles to be good at butterfly.”

Carozza is also a 20-time NCAA All-American, a 28-time PSAC champion, and an eight-time PSAC record holder. She’s especially proud of her team earning second place in the 800-freestyle relay at the NCAA championship.

Carozza followed in the footsteps of her mother, also a “butterflier,” who swam for the University of Delaware, and her cousins, who swam at the local swim club. At age 12, Carozza recalls, she realized she might be good enough to swim in college.

“I loved swimming because of the people I swam with every day. It was also an outlet for me… When I would have a tough day, I would go to practice and I would be able to forget everything else that was going on.”

A difficult time came when the COVID-19 2020 pandemic forced her and her teammates to train on their own. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it made me so much stronger,” she says.

In college, Carozza went out of her way to help others. She served as a peer mentor through the Real Achievement Matters (RAM) initiative for students with intellectual disabilities, and coached the Rammies Special Olympics swim team from 2018 to 2023.

“I love working with all children and young adults to help them reach their full potential,” she explains.

Carozza says she’s wanted to become a teacher since age 5. She plans to earn a master’s degree in education and be certified as a reading specialist.

As a swim coach, she teaches her charges to work hard while having fun, she says.

“I love watching a 3-year-old learn the basic swimming survival skills, and helping a collegiate athlete succeed at the next level,” she says. “I have learned from a lot of my coaches growing up — they have all cared about their swimmers in the pool and in their life. I hope to be half the coach one day that my coaches have been to me.”

Now that she has put competitive swimming behind her, she runs, cycles and lifts weights. “I have only swum once or twice since March,” she says. “I do think I will swim again in my future — just not now.”

The above appears in the January 2024 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.


About Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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