To honor 40 years of swimming and diving at the University of Arkansas, we took some time to get in touch with some former swimmers and divers to reflect on their time at the UA and find out where they are now. Cheryl McArton was a three-time All-American swimmer for the University of Arkansas from 1984-88. She earned All-America honors in the 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay. She also competed for the Canadian national team in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Calif. At the end of her illustrious career with the Razorbacks she held six Razorback records. She currently resides in Washington D.C. as a swimming coach.
Can you reflect on your time in Fayetteville, Arkansas?
I actually loved it. I had a really nice time. It was a really great experience and I’m glad I went. It was really different from where I grew up. I grew up in a big city and moving to Fayetteville was a culture shock for about a day and then I just really loved the laid back, slower, friendly attitude of everybody. There were no traffic issues and I just loved it. I had no problem whatsoever with it, I had a good time. I have a daughter who is a swimmer right now and I would send her to Arkansas to swim.
Do you feel that swimming helped you in other aspects of your college life?
I think swimming helped me go to school, well just being in any sport, but I think it helps you because you have to learn discipline and you have to learn time management. You know you have to go to swim practice and you better get that homework done before swim practice. So you can’t just go and fool around a whole lot. I had a wonderful time there, I really, really did. In fact after we graduated, my husband and I are both Canadian and we stayed in Arkansas, he coached at Arkansas and I worked in Little Rock. We loved it there.
Can you talk a little bit about how swimming at Arkansas impacted your life afterwards?
I’m coaching right now. I coach an adult master’s swim team. I’m probably coaching because of my experience of competing at Arkansas. I have two kids, one of them who doesn’t swim anymore and one who still swims, so it ended up giving me a lifelong love of the sport. I didn’t quit, a lot of people quit after they are done with college but I didn’t I joined the masters team, so I compete myself and I love swim meets. I run swim meets for college teams and for the masters. I run swim meets for the team my kids swim for. So I’m still involved in the sport.
Can you talk about the team when you were on it, maybe some of the other team members? If you still keep in touch?
I do still keep in touch with some of them, the men’s and the women’s team hung out together a lot, we went to lake houses together. We always went to the football games and the basketball games together. We would go to Eureka Springs a lot and that was actually my social network. It was the other swimmers.
When you came from Canada you were a little bit nervous coming to a place like Fayetteville Arkansas. Was it an easier transition than you thought it would be?
I wasn’t nervous about moving down there but, it was definitely a nice surprise. You walk down the sidewalk and people say hello to you then you look behind you and they are saying hi to somebody else that I didn’t even know. It was really nice and it was very different. Now I live in a big city right near Washington D.C., and everybody is in a hurry and not as friendly. Fayetteville was a real friendly town. I like the college town atmosphere.
What did you feel was the most memorable moment of your career at Arkansas?
I’m going to have to say the friends that I made, when I got married I had people in my wedding party and in my husband’s party that both swam at Arkansas and the coach was there as well. Really good friends and nice people I met there.