It's been a stressful year for Jamie Engan, but the Carson High senior has reduced some of that stress by signing with the University of Iowa where she will compete for the Hawkeyes women's swim team.
Engan is still recovering from the death of her father, Tom, who died of cancer in November. The death of her father is a significant reason why she's not competing for the Carson girls swim team this spring.
"There's a lot of conflicting stuff," said Engan on why she's not swimming for Carson. "It was just really difficult this year."
While she's been swimming for 11 years and always had the goal of earning a Division I scholarship, Engan admitted that signing with Iowa, "it's more for my dad.
"He's really my only parent because my parents were divorced and I always lived with him."
Among the other schools who recruited Engan were LSU, Wisconsin and Michigan. It's not surprising that Engan chose a Midwest school in Iowa since she moved from Illinois to Carson two years ago.
"I grew up in the Midwest," Engan said. "I'm really comfortable there. It's close to home, which I need. It just worked out really well."
Iowa is a relatively new program. Engan will swim mainly in all of the freestyles from 100 to 1,650 yards for the Big 10 school. Her obvious goal is to make the NCAA Championships.
"I just want to improve a lot and maintain a good grade point average while I'm there," said Engan, who still trains with the Carson Tigersharks.
Anothe reason why she chose Iowa is for its nursing school as Engan plans to major in nursing. Engan has been able to maintain a grade point average above 3.0 despite it falling last fall after her father's death.
"It was better earlier this year," Engan said. "Last semester brought it down because of everything."
Engan, whose best events are the distance freestyles, has had among the nation's best times in several events for her age group for several years. She competed in the National Senior Championships in 2004 and qualified for senior nationals last year, but didn't swim due to a shoulder injury.
She said she doesn't plan to participate in any major competitions before going to Iowa and just plans to train over the summer.
At last year's NIAA State Championships, Engan won the 500 free and took second in the 200 free.
Engan said she expects to be more focused once the school year ends. "I'm pretty sure after the school year is over it will be a lot easier," she said. "It's been really hard. It's really hard to focus just on anything really."