Of SwimSwam’s top 20 recruits in the girls’ high school class of 2021 only four didn’t earn individual invites to the 2022 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships.
One of those was 14th-ranked Ashley Strouse of Northwestern. The Arizona native faced a string of injuries that inhibited her progress as a freshman, but still managed to contribute to Northwestern’s 400 free relay at the meet, anchoring in 49.20.
While she didn’t go any best times in her first year of collegiate swimming, Strouse held her season together remarkably well, given the context.
Before last year’s US Olympic Swimming Trials, Strouse dislocated her knee. After rigorous physical therapy, she swam at the faster Wave II meet, where she placed 40th in the 200 free and 44th in the 400 free.
After trials, she dislocated her knee again, which led to a full patellar tendon reconstruction in August. That meant she missed the entire fall season for the Wildcats.
That wasn’t the end of her injury issues, either. In December, she was riding an electric scooter and she fell over the handlebars. She didn’t get an x-ray for 4 weeks, at which time two broken elbows were revealed. An MRI revealed more problems caused by the scar tissue.
She made her debut in a dual meet against Wisconsin on January 22 and swam four meets, including Big Tens and NCAAs, for the Wildcats. At Big Tens, she contributed 26 points in spite of the ongoing injuries, and impressed coaches enough to earn a relay swim at the NCAA Championships, even though she wasn’t on any relays at Big Tens, and even though she’s not a sprinter.
On April 5, Strouse underwent arthroscopic surgery on her elbow to clear out the scar tissue and remove a loose body. Because it was arthroscopic, Strouse says that her expected recovery time is only “a month or two.”
“It’s been a long year, but I’m trying to regain strength and mobility in both my arms and leg currently,” Strouse said.
Strouse committed to a Northwestern program that is on the upswing. They have finished 4th and 5th, respectively, at the last two Big Ten Championships, which are their first top 5 performances since 2008. Strouse is the best recruit for the Northwestern women in a long time, and if she can get healthy, Strouse could be a focal point for the Wildcats to push through that 200-point gap to the conference leaders.
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Best Times – Freshman Season at Northwestern
This girl should wrap herself in bubble wrap
Ashley will come back stronger than ever! She is a superstar inside and out! That girl is one tough lady! ❤️
All the best to Ashley, we are rooting you on from AZ!!!
damn shawty okay!
I’ve heard of so many electric scooter accident from college athletes. I know in big campuses they can save a ton of time, but I’m not sure the risk is worth the trade off.
LETS GO ASH ROLL CATS!!!! D GROUP 4EVER
And she’s gonna come back better than ever😼🔥 go ashley and go cats!!