Big Ten Senior Spotlight: Cynthia Pammett of Indiana University

by Varun Shivakumar 0

February 16th, 2015 Big Ten, College, National, News

There is no other way to describe Indiana’s strength in the backstroke events other than to say that the ladies from Bloomington have had an absolutely stranglehold atop the conference for a number of years in a row. In both the 100 and 200 backs, Indiana has had a Big Ten winner or a runner-up for several years running, and we could see this incredible streak continue to grow with how many returners they have competing in those events. Amongst the senior backstrokers, Cynthia Pammett out of Ontario, Canada is one of the individuals who we all ought to keep an eye out for in the upcoming days.

Pammett came to IU as an elite club level backstroker in the Canadian swimming realm with multiple Huronia regional records to her name, and she didn’t fail to impress upon becoming a Hoosier. Pammett immediately factored in as a Big Ten scorer in multiple events, with top finishes of 12th in the 100 back (54.89, 54.48 in prelims), 7th in the 200 back (1:57.04, 1:56.00 in prelims), and 30th in the 200 IM (2:02.97). She was the fastest amongst Indiana freshmen in the 100 back and second-fastest in the 200 to her teammate, Justine Ress.

Forwarding to the following year, Cynthia had a tremendous season with the Hoosiers. At the 2013 Big Ten Championships, she recorded finishes of 6th in the 200 free (1:46.41, 1:45.51 in prelims), 4th in the 100 back (53.40, 53.22 in prelims), and 2nd in the 200 back (1:53.58, 1:53.22 in prelims), with all of her prelim swims representing lifetime bests.

She would also participate in a multitude of relays, with the highlight of the championships coming in the 800 free relay where she joined teammates Lindsay VroomanHaley Lips, and Brooklyn Snodgrass in becoming the first foursome in Big 10 history to break 7 minutes (6:59.42). She also contributed legs in the 200 free relay (1:30.90, 8th), the 400 medley relay (3:33.71, 3rd), and the 400 free relay (3:18.76, 6th).

With her swims at the Big Ten Championships, Pammett joined a large Indiana team in qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Championships. Individually, Pammett took 25th in the 200 back (1:55.05) and 45th in the 100 back (54.18), though she would also participate in multiple relay swims during the championships as well. She earned All-American Honorable Mention honors with her freestyle leg in the 400 medley relay (11th, 3:33.52) and also as a member of the 800 free relay (7:05.32, 11th). Additionally, she also swam on the prelims squad for the 200 medley relay (1:38.23), the 400 free relay (3:21.19, 27th).

After getting her first taste of national collegiate experience, Pammett strung together more respectable performances during her junior year both at the Big Ten Championships and at NCAAs. At the conference meet, Pammett took 12th in the 200 free (1:47.94, 1:46.80), 8th in the 100 back (54.31, 53.84 in prelims), and 3rd in the 200 back (1:55.20, 1:54.67 in prelims). Notably, she was one of 5 IU swimmers in the A final of the 200 back, and the program swept the top 4 spots. As a member of relays, Cynthia provided legs on the 800 free relay (7:03.08, 2nd), 200 free relay (1:29.49, 3rd), and the 400 free relay (3:16.70, 4th).

At the 2014 NCAA Championships, Pammett would compete individually in the 200 free (1:47.13, 35th) and the 200 back (1:54.76, 22nd) while also swimming the anchor leg of the 200 yard free relay (1:29.56, 17th) and the 3rd leg of the 800 free relay (7:08.07, 16th, All-American Honorable Mention).

Outside of the pool, Cynthia is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2013,2014).

With fellow countrywoman Brooklyn Snodgrass at the head of the group, Cynthia and the rest of the Indiana backstrokers are likely to hog the scoreboard quite a bit this weekend in their events as per usual. Those races are essentially theirs to lose, and the team will need every point they can get if they want to unseat three-time reigning conference champions Minnesota from their throne. With a strong set of swims from the Canadian(s), Indiana can lay down some serious hurt in the backstrokes and the relays, so look for Cynthia Pammett to go out with a bang in her final conference meet.

Best Times (SCY/LCM):
50 Free: 23.22/26.73
100 Free: 49.82/56.47
200 Free: 1:45.55/2:03.62
100 Back: 53.22/1:02.66
200 Back: 1:53.22/2:14.58
200 IM: 2:01.46/2:22.03
800 Free Relay: 6:59.42**

**Denotes school and Big Ten record

School Major/Degree: Psychology
Favorite Event: 200 backstroke
Favorite Hobby: Volunteering with the animal shelter
Favorite Movie: Rat Race
Role Model Growing Up: Natalie Coughlin
Favorite Food: Crepes

At what age did you become involved with swimming? How did you get into it?

I started swimming when I was nine years old. My mother insisted that I at least know how to swim and then from there I could chose if I wanted to continue on in the sport. I ended up falling in love with the sport of swimming and the rest was history.

What is your favorite collegiate swimming memory and why?

My all time favorite swimming memory in college would have to be the 4×200 free relay at Big Tens 2013. The 800 free relay takes place on the first night of the meet and I can still remember the excitement of the team before that relay. I don’t think that a group of girls have ever been more motivated to win then we were. We all swam faster than our best times to put together a winning relay as well as a Big Ten Record. It is a memory that I can distinctly recall because I don’t think that there was a time in my life where I have ever felt more proud of a group of girls coming together as the underdogs and ending up on top. It was a pretty unforgettable moment in my life.

Indiana is INCREDIBLY deep in the backstroke events, with the Hoosiers having four swimmers in the big heat of the 100 back last year at the Big Ten Championships and then stunningly sweeping the top 4 spots in the 200 back. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like having some of the country’s best backstrokers together in one training group on a daily basis, and how has this helped you with your training personally?

I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to train on a team with such an amazing history of backstrokers. It is always competitive and fun when training with these girls, they have allowed me to push myself above and beyond what I ever thought I could do. I honestly don’t think that I would have accomplished everything I have so far without them. Being a part of the final in the 100 and 200 back and looking to see a heat full of IU swimmers is a pretty incredible feeling that not a lot of people get to experience. We also brought in two backstrokers this year (Kennedy Goss and Marie Chamberlain) that have added a lot of depth to our backstroke program and I am excited to see how many people we can get in the finals this year.

You are originally from Ontario, Canada, and you enjoyed plenty of success as an elite backstroker there. Was it difficult to transition from that background into the United States’ collegiate scene or do you feel like it was relatively easy for you to jump start your NCAA career?

Originally it was a struggle to transition from Canadian swimming to American swimming and it took me about a year to fully adjust. I had never swam in or let alone seen a yards pool in my life before I had come to IU, so transitioning from meters to yards was a little bit of an adjustment. I also swam for a really small club team that didn’t train all that often so the switch to training in college was a big change. After I started to understand how things worked in America, it all got a lot easier. The coaches were such a big part of helping me with the transition and I credit them a lot for that.

Would you be willing to share some of your goals for your final championship season with the Hoosiers?

Some of my goals for my final few meets of my season here at IU would to be to attend NCAA again this year and see IU in the top ten at the meet as a team. I hope to go best times at the meet but I think that is a goal of every swimmer. I most importantly just want to have fun and enjoy my last few meets as a collegiate swimmer. Time flies so fast in college swimming that it is so important to not only race fast but to also have fun while doing it.  

What/who do you think has been the single most important catalyst to your swimming career?

The most important catalyst to my swimming career would have to be my teammates. I would definitely not have seen the success that I have without them by my side. IU trains together as both a men’s and women’s team and I think that makes our team very strong as a whole. Your teammates are the people you go through all the crazy workouts with and who keep you smiling while doing it and that makes a world of difference. Your teammates truly become your family away from home and that to me has had the most impact on my swimming career.

Do you have any plans/commitments following the completion of your collegiate career?

After this year I plan to continue at IU for another year while training for Canadian Olympic Trials. I’m very excited to be able to be at IU with my team and training under the amazing coaches that we have for another year. After, I plan to attend grad school to get my PhD in Psychology.

What should we look forward to from Indiana as a whole at this year’s Big Ten Championships?

I think looking to Big Ten’s you will see a lot of amazing swims from our team and a lot of unexpected swims from our freshman. With a freshmen class of over 10 girls and a senior class of only 4, we are looking to our incomers to make an impact. We have the most talented group of girls that I have seen in four years so I look forward to coming together and racing with all of these girls for one last time.


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About Varun Shivakumar

Varun Shivakumar hails from Hoffman Estates, IL and swam competitively for 16 years. He swam both backstroke events at Northwestern University, and ranks fifth in the school’s All-time performances list in the 200 yard backstroke. Representing NASA Wildcat Aquatics, he also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE …

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