Notre Dame’s Sara Simar swims to college signing

Present for Notre Dame student Sara Simar’s college signing were, seated from left, Shannon Simar (mother), Sarah Simar, Edwin Simar (father), Sherry Fruge (grandmother), Thomas Clavier (Crawfish swim team coach); standing, Jenny Didier (ND swim coach), Dani Fontenot, Chris Simar (brother), Michael Simar (brother) holding Aubree, Alex Miller, Samantha Lyons, Cindy Istre (ND principal) and Lewis Cook (ND administrator).

It was a tough decision for Notre Dame swimmer Sarah Simar, one that either way was going to take her a good distance from home. 

It all boiled down to being comfortable and for Simar the chance for a college swimming career will take her to Lewis University in Illinois.

“It’s a long way from home, but the decision for me was which school would help me get farthest along toward my goals. My choices were pretty even academically, I just felt this was best for what I want in school and swimming.”

Lewis is located about 30 minutes southwest of Chicago in Romeoville. The Division II Flyers compete in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and have been ranked as high as eighth nationally this season by CollegeSwimming.com.

“The level of competition was important to me. I always give a hundred percent and don’t like doing anything halfway. The challenges at Lewis will help me be a better swimmer.”

Jenny Didier has guided the Notre Dame swimmers for the past 14 years. As a volunteer coach, Didier is well versed about the time and effort Simar as invested in her goals.

“It’s in her heart to be a swimmer. Sarah gets up at four in the morning, drives to Lafayette to swim, comes to school with her hair still wet and goes back after school for more work. She is in the water four or five hours a day doing what she loves to do.”

And she sure loved the recent state swim meet, where Simar finished second in the 100-meter Breaststroke (1:09.30) and a close second just behind teammate Erin Trahan in the 100-meter Butterfly (59.83 seconds).

“Sarah has a tremendous work ethic,” added Didier. “She has a routine that she follows and doesn’t get out of it for anything. That stability gives her focus and when she is competing it is like being on a mission. She is regimented, intense and a hard worker.”

Simar garnered three medals at the state meet, helping the Pios team to their most decorated season ever. The team hauled in eight total medals and the Pios girls finished fourth. Simar closed out her meet with a gold medal in the 400-Meter Freestyle relay, teaming with Trahan, Abigail Kilgore and Emily Lawson.

“We all worked really hard together for that,” added Simar. “The relay was my last event for Notre Dame, so it was special to win that last race for the team and it’s a great memory for me.” 

Outside of the high school season, Simar keeps her skills fine tuned swimming for the Crawfish Aquatics team in Lafayette. Coach Thomas Clavier, who was an All-American swimmer at Indiana, has tutored Simar for the past five years and watched her grow into a college level talent.

“Of course, you have to have the times to get looked at, but there are a lot of other qualities that Sarah brings to the water. Yes, she is a natural athlete, she is driven, a hard worker and just as importantly knows how to deal with adversity when it presents itself.”

Two years ago, Sarah Simar tore an ACL in a skiing accident. Two months later, she competed with that injury in the state meet and was second in the 200-Freestyle to further impress Clavier.

“Sarah has worked hard for everything she has accomplished and for everything ahead of her as a college swimmer. She is a team leader and not many can handle that responsibility. As a leader, Sarah isn’t afraid to call out a teammate and they respect her for that because they know it is to help the person and the team. It’s always been team first with Sarah.”

Pios coach Didier can testify to that having witnessed it for four years at Notre Dame. Simar has helped guide her younger teammates into high school swimming.

“We had several new swimmers this season and I could always depend on Sarah to get those teammates in the right place at the right time to be there for their event. She has taken several younger kids under her wing, helped them along and coached them to better results.”

Not bad for a south Louisiana gal competing in a sport that gets very little attention outside of those actually involved. Those who know Sarah Simar understand that was never going to be an obstacle.

“Swimming came to me by surprise,” explained Simar. “I was tagging along with a friend when I was 9 and thought this looks like fun. Now I’ll get to compete in college, study biology and aviation and hopefully go on to medical school to become a travel surgeon.”

And the odds are she will make it. So, sometime down the road from now, don’t be surprised if that plane you hear overhead is Simar piloting herself to surgery, unless she decides to swim there instead.

Simar is the daughter of Edwin and Shannon Simar of Jennings.

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