Alumni Spotlight

ECA Alumni Profile – Emily Pfeiffer


HS Graduation – Washington High School, 2013

College Graduation - I swam 4 years for UNC Chapel Hill and graduated in 2017

College/Service/Work – I currently work as a legal assistant for a small practice in Chapel Hill, and I coach for the Hillsborough Aquatic Club. I will be attending Campbell Law this fall. 

Time with ECA (or Greenville Swim Club) – About 10 years

Best Event and Time - Casey would probably debate with me on whether this was my “best” event, but my favorite event was the 200-yard Breaststroke (2:12.54)

Best memory with ECA - This is outrageously hard to answer, but one of my favorite memories was driving to a long course meet in Florida. Casey drove his stupidly loud, ugly blue Tundra with myself, two other swimmers, and our assistant at the time. As we drove into South Carolina, passing by the “South of the Border” amusement park, Casey proceeded to lock all of the windows, turn the heat on high, and BLAST mariachi music until we begged for mercy. Roughly 17 minutes of pure torture. The fun didn’t stop there. We were on a tight timeline of getting to the pool at Coral Springs, so Casey opted to neglect his need for a bathroom break in order to make our scheduled warm up time. I saw this as a great opportunity to inflict as much suffering to this man as he did a few hours prior to myself and my Tundra-mates. I decided to make Casey laugh as hard as possible, knowing his bladder was at 110% capacity. He started to drive profusely over the speed limit, screeching tires up to the entrance of the pool, throws the truck in park, and runs into the pool bathrooms. We didn’t see him for 7 minutes. (I promise, he loves telling this story. He’s very proud of how much liquid his body was holding.)


What I gained as a member of ECA? I still have lifelong friendships from swimming, and Casey is still this weird quasi- fun uncle- mentor - father figure that I can’t put into words how much I love and respect still to this day. I can’t think of my time at ECA (or GSC while I was there) without the overarching feeling of gratitude toward what that man put me through, mentally and physically in the pool. I trained with “the boys” for the better part of my swimming career, because he told me I would. And I did well with it. I like to think I have a high level of work ethic, which he showed me and taught me, and prepared me for my swimming career at UNC more than I can detail, and has certainly helped me through my pursuit of law school and furthering my argumentative skills. Time management, work ethic, and dedication as a teenager can be a challenging dance, but I think I did pretty well, and I owe it to my time as a club swimmer. I still love to swim and run, and I love knowing how powerful the human mind is; when something is hard or your body is dying and unresponsive, tell your body to shut up and keep going. And I guess to sum up, I’m 24 years old now, and I still compare every challenge in life I face to that one Christmas Eve practice, 2009 (might have been 2010). I affirm nothing in life will be as hard as those 3 hours. Just ask the big man. 

How do lessons learned from swimming apply today in your career/life? I’m pretty proud of my time management skills and work ethic. I joke that I had a “part time job” as a swimmer in college, but juggling 24+ hours every week in and around the pool for workouts, rehab and conditioning mixed with class schedules can be taxing on any normal human. But I loved it, and I chose to pursue my dreams, and it panned out better than I thought it would. I’m now a professional at waking up before the sun rises! The biggest lesson I learned is that I have a large disdain for the mass produced “get rich quick” schemes that, unfortunately, many people apply to life. I maintain that I wasn’t the most talented swimmer, I wasn’t gifted genetically (you can look at me and tell, long and lean are not in my DNA), but I had goals and I worked for them. And I worked hard. And I really try to hold that mantra for my career and “adult goals.” Things take time, and progress isn’t always linear. But if you want something enough, and you are honest with yourself and your efforts, then your hopes, aspirations or dreams become reality sooner than you think. 


ECA Alumni Profile – Michelle de Vente


HS Graduation – 2012 J.H. Rose High School

College/Service/Work

I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2016, and received my commission as a naval officer. Currently I am stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, flying the FA-18/F Super Hornet as a weapons and systems officer. 


Time with ECA (or Greenville Swim Club/GSC) – 11 years 

Best memory of time with ECA - I loved going on training trips in the summer! 


What I gained as a member of ECA?

GSC (ECA) provided the environment for me to make amazing friendships, to receive lasting mentorship from the coaching staff and to experience personal growth each and every day. 

How do lessons learned from swimming apply today in your career/life?   

Swimming provided me with countless lessons that have helped me succeed in life, but there is one lesson in particular that stands out. As a swimmer, I learned how to fail. I experienced years of not dropping a lot of time at races, and not being as fast at meets as teammates I trained with. Growing up, I was pretty good at school, so swimming was the arena where I experienced my failures. While these setbacks resulted in lots of tears and frustration, today I am so thankful for these experiences. In the years that followed, “dare to fail” became my personal mantra. This mindset has led to me try challenging things ... and fall short (frequently). But it has also led to the most rewarding and amazing experiences of my life. I love my job and could have never imagined as a swimmer that I would be flying fighter jets, but I know this dream was born from many lessons learned between the lane lines at Minges. 


ECA Alumni Spotlight - Patrick Edge

 

HS graduation

2016 West Carteret High School

College/Service/Work

Boatswains Mate 3rd class in the U.S. Coast Guard

Time with ECA

3 years, 13 years of swimming total

Best Event and Time

200 Yard Butterfly 1:51.69

Best Memory with ECA

2014 training trip to Hilton Head, SC

What I gained as a member of ECA

I learned that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to with hard work and dedication. That just because you have disadvantages or disabilities doesn’t mean you can’t be the fastest or be the best, it just means you have to try harder and find ways to accomplish a task. I’ve also learned that you never know who you’re going to meet. As a big team, you go to swim meets and you compete with other teams and other swimmers as one big family. Everyone has disagreements or has an upsetting race, but in the end, everyone is there for everyone. After you stop swimming the friends and people that you meet in the pool, whether it be at a meet or practice, will be there for the rest of your life.

Future Plans

I plan to do 20-30 years active duty Coast Guard.


 

ECA Alumni Spotlight - Chelsea Parker Haigwood 

High School Graduation:

Arendell Parrott Academy, 2009

College/Service Work/Work:

I graduated from ECU in 2013. I work at Saint Peter Catholic School as the 6th and 7th grade Science teacher, this is my 6th year. I also am an assistant coach with the WiredCats Blue and Green- Saint Peter’s robotics team. I recently started working with Specialized Tutoring.

Time with ECA:

17 years! I swam with ECA for 9 years and was a coach with ECA for 8 years. I primarily coached the younger groups.

Best memory with ECA:

My best memories with ECA are training trips, swim meets, and the coaches. My favorite memory would be back when I swam my group would have me go ask Casey what we were doing that day because I was his favorite.

What I gained as a member of ECA:

I gained many lifetime friends from ECA. This past June I got married to Turner Haigwood, we met through ECA back in 2004. Most of our wedding party were former ECA swimmers and Casey Charles even read at our wedding!  

How do lessons learned from swimming apply today in your career/life?

Swimming is a challenging but rewarding sport. I have a very strong work ethic and push myself every day to be the best I can be. Without swimming and the guidance of Casey and Scott my life/career would be very different.

 

ECA Alumni Spotlight – Kelly Barnhill

Year of High School Graduation: JH Rose class of 2015 
 
Age: 21
 
Year, school, major:
I am a Senior at ECU double majoring in Business & Construction Management. 
 
When did you start swimming?
When I was about 5 years old 
 
How did you get involved in ECA? 
My dad swam on ECA (GSC at the time) when he was a kid and my parents had always wanted my siblings and I to be able to swim and function in the water. 
 
What are some of the things that swimming has taught you? 
Swimming has taught me so many lessons throughout the years. Some major ones being work ethic and self-accountability. However the biggest one for me personally is how to handle adversity in a positive manner. Swimming can be a grueling sport both physically and mentally and when you put the work in and don’t always see the results you were hoping for it’s tough to see the positive side of that.  Time and time again swimming continually teaches me to continue working through adversity and pursue whatever goal is at hand.
 
Why would you recommend ECA to other swimmers?
I would recommend ECA to other swimmers because it’s where I had some of my best memories growing up as a kid. The people and friends I met during my time there are some of the best I will ever have. 
 
Hobbies, extracurricular activities &/or volunteer involvement?
I’m involved with Pitt County Special Olympics, Building Hope, and ECU Student-Athelte Advisory Committee.
 
Future career plans?
Pursue my Masters in Business Administration after undergrad and then hopefully start a career in the construction industry. 

 

ECA Alumni Spotlight – AJ Howard

HS Graduation – 2017

Time with ECA - 10 years

College – AJ is a rising sophomore at Hampden-Sydney College

Best Event and Time - 100 Fly, 51.93

Best memory of time with ECA - Being a leader of the back-to-back 1A/2A state championship WHS swim team.

What I gained as a member of ECA?

“I gained a family filled with lifelong friends who I know will always be by my side and there when I need them to be. Also, I learned how to be a well-rounded citizen - someone who treats others with respect, is disciplined and committed to seeing tasks through. I learned that no matter how hard the challenge and how high a wall is to climb, if I push myself to the best of my ability and never give up, there is no wall that's too high for me to get over. Swimming with ECA gave my life purpose. When I first started swimming, I wasn’t headed down the best path and swimming for ECA changed that. It led me down the right path and I honestly do not think I would be here today if it wasn’t for ECA and the family it provided for me.”