Notre Dame Swimming Captain Sarah Bender Earns Fulbright Scholarship

by Casey Murphy 3

May 30th, 2024 ACC, College, News

Notre Dame’s swimming & diving team captain Sarah Bender will be taking her talents beyond the pool to teach English in the Slovak Republic as a graduate student and recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship in September.

Introduced in 1946 by former U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright Program offers opportunities for recipients to pursue professional and academic endeavors abroad, including teaching, doing research, and undertaking graduate studies. Bender is one of 16 students who received English Teaching Assistant Awards for the Slovak Republic this year.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to live and work in Slovakia while contributing to Fulbright’s mission of expanding cross-cultural dialogue,” Bender said.

Before arriving at Notre Dame, Bender was a 9x Junior Nationals Finalist, 4x Virginia Swimming State Champion in the 200 breast (3x LCM, 1x SCY), state record holder in the (LCM) 400 medley and 400 free relays, and 2x USA Swimming Scholastic All-America.

As a swimmer for the Fighting Irish, Bender achieved a 200 breaststroke time of 2:12.80 at the 2023 Ohio State Invitational, marking the 5th-fastest time in Notre Dame’s program history. She finished the season with a 20th-place performance in that event at the ACC Championships.

She also won the Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award and earned All-ACC Academic Team in 2024. She is the first student-athlete from the school to earn the Fulbright Scholarship.

When asked what she is looking forward to, Bender said, “I’m excited to learn new perspectives and integrate them into my understanding of the world.”

Allison Kopac, a senior captain alongside Bender for the Fighting Irish, described Bender as one of the most ambitious and hardworking individuals she knows. According to Kopac, Bender leads by example, demonstrating her dedication to everything she is involved in, especially their team.

“Sarah’s work ethic and commitment to her experience as a student-athlete at Notre Dame provided her the platform to succeed, impact and change the world for the better,” Peterson Family Head Coach Chris Lindauer said.

Outside of the pool, she has earned a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Political Science/Statistics, is a grader/correct0r in Notre Dame’s Department of German and Russian, did an internship with EducationUSA working with the Virtual Student Federal Service program, and was an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

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1 month ago


1 month ago

Good article!!

1 month ago

Having had the opportunity to study overseas in Rome and London, I can attest to the rich, rewarding experiences that come from living, working, teaching, and interacting with others in another country and, possibly, another language!