After transferring from the University of Maryland following her freshman year because the Terrapins cut their swimming program, senior Megan Zarriello has embraced her time as a Fordham Ram. She specialized in the distance freestyle events and recently completed her Fordham swimming career at the Atlantic 10 Championship, placing sixth in the 500yd freestyle in 4:53.56 and eighth in the 1650yd freestyle in 17:07.57. She is a native of Garden City, New York and is pursuing her undergraduate degree in psychology.
The Fordham Ram: How did you get started with swimming?
Megan Zarriello: My mom swam in college, so she definitely wanted her kids to get involved at least in a summer league. I started doing summer leagues in Garden City and I really enjoyed it. I decided to pursue it further and it was pretty easy for me.
TFR: What led you to decide to attend the University of Maryland after high school?
MZ: I took a recruiting trip there [University of Maryland] and just fell in love with the team, the school and the big sports school. The coaches were really nice, too, and I felt if I went there, I’d really help my swimming career and better myself.
TFR: What influenced you to come to Fordham after one year at Maryland?
MZ: Being close to home was really nice. Also, I knew a lot of the girls on the team already, because a lot of people from the Metropolitan area come to Fordham to swim. I got Kelly [Carroll] to come here after I decided. It was really nice to have her here for the whole process and everything. Then, I knew [Coach] Steve [Potsklan]. He recruited me out of high school. I felt comfortable. I felt like it wouldn’t have been such a big transition to come to Fordham, which it hasn’t been.
TFR: Was Fordham ever in mind originally?
MZ: I think Fordham was in my [consideration] at the beginning, and then I think I just wanted to be farther from home. My brother went to Fordham for a year and a half. When I came here at first, I said ‘I really want to go here.’ Then, I started looking at other schools farther away. But, maybe I knew I would end up eventually coming to Fordham.
TFR: What was it like adjusting to Fordham and Fordham swimming?
MZ: I think the difference was bigger school versus smaller school. Smaller class sizes — I think classes were a bit more of an adjustment, because the professors pay more attention to you than at Maryland, because you’re one of thousands at Maryland. Swimming-wise, it was just really nice to have people that I knew already. [coach] Steve [Potsklan], [coach] Aimee [Alt] and [coach] Ed [Cammon] were so nice to us when we came in, helping us out with anything we needed, especially living. They got us a really nice place in O’Hare to live. Everyone was really welcoming, so it was really nice. I think that if outside the pool they’re welcoming, then it helps inside the pool with swimming.
TFR: Why the distance freestyle stroke?
MZ: Because I couldn’t sprint. No, I’m just kidding. I’m smaller so it helps distance-wise. Some of the girls are so much taller than me, and they are usually pretty good at sprints. I’m smaller so I was able to use my work ethic to take me farther than my size. It was hard, but it felt better for me that I could do events that some people couldn’t do. I know that every team has to have a distance swimmer and I guess I’m one of them.
TFR: Is freestyle your favorite stroke? What’s your favorite distance?
MZ: Yes. Freestyle. My favorite distance is probably the 500, which is the second shortest one that I do. It’s the perfect amount for me. Towards the end of my career, the longer distances were definitely rougher. I just really like the 500 and did really well during it over the years.
TFR: Do you have a favorite memory or favorite part from your Fordham swimming career?
MZ: I would definitely say the training trips. They are really fun and a team bonding [experience]. We all were focused on working hard and having fun together. The coaches were really nice about making sure that we got the work done in the pool, but also we got to do some really fun things, like go on catamaran trips, go to rainforests and hike up a volcano in Hawaii.
TFR: What was it like coming into the A-10 championship as one of the favorites after beating Richmond in the regular season? What was your overall A-10 experience like?
MZ: Going in, we were definitely excited about how we did in the dual meet season. It definitely gave us a lot of confidence. I was really excited, because I wanted to see my other teammates do well, and I also felt that with the confidence that I had on how I did during dual meet season, that I would take it into A-10s. A lot of things could have went better, but unfortunately didn’t go as well with our end result. I don’t think the way we placed shows how we did as a team, because it’s hard with the addition of George Mason and Davidson. They’re two really good teams. I think we had some really, really good swims. I personally think I did really well. I was glad that I was able to end on that note.
TFR: Looking back at your college swimming career, is there anything you would’ve tried to do differently?
MZ: Tried to sprint! No! I think everything happens for a reason. Maybe getting cut (University of Maryland’s swimming program) was a blessing in disguise. I met amazing people at this school. The coaches were awesome to me. Ed says, ‘Why didn’t you just come here from the beginning?’ I say, ‘Honestly, I don’t really know why I didn’t come.’ I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently. I say I want to sprint, but I know that distance events are where I gave the team the most points. I’m just glad I did it. I’m glad I kept swimming at all. There was a chance I was going to quit. I’m so glad I didn’t do that.
TFR: What are your plans after graduation?
MZ: Hopefully, [I’ll] get a job and go to graduate school eventually. I’m definitely going to stay around the New York City area. Fordham’s really nice with having people who want to stay in the city after graduation. It’s also been nice to go to a school where I can stay with my friends afterwards.