Know Your Athlete, Sports

Know Your Athlete: Elizabeth Ling

Calgary native Elizabeth Ling has been making waves on the McGill swim team. After winning the first Quebec Cup competition of the season, Ling was named RSEQ Athlete of the Week for her impressive achievements.

In addition to winning three gold and one silver medal during her first meet of the season, Ling broke two school records, registering her 50 free time at 25.47 seconds on a relay, just under that of Olympian Andrea Nugent’s time of 25.55, set in 1993. This remarkable feat led the McGill women’s swim team to win the first Quebec Cup competition of the season.

Ling’s performance comes as no surprise, as she has tremendous discipline and drive. She started swimming when she was 10 years old and has put in constant effort ever since, eventually making her way to the University of Calgary Swim Club.

“My first club never really pushed me, but moving to a pretty intense team [like Calgary] allowed me to get better and be recruited for the McGill team,” Ling explained in an interview with The McGill Tribune.

As a U2 student in civil engineering, Ling has learned how to focus on schoolwork while keeping her broader goals in mind. Both of her parents are civil engineers, which led to her passion for the subject and inspired her to pursue an engineering career of her own.

What Ling enjoys about swimming with McGill is the positive team atmosphere. The team always encourages each other to do better—fist bumps and high fives keep morale high during practice and at competitions.

A supportive team was a big factor in Ling’s decision to swim at McGill. A healthy, harmonious swim squad can be its own source of motivation and an additional incentive for athletic excellence. There are never discouraging comments between the swimmers—instead, the positive environment makes swimming easier and more fun.

“Everyone is super nice and super supportive,” Ling said. “They’re extremely positive, especially during practice. With my old club, people would make negative comments during practice, but I haven’t had any of that this year.”

Ling is also grateful for the guidance of Peter Carpenter, who has been coaching the McGill swim team since 2009. He was awarded the U SPORTS Fox 40 men’s Coach of the Year award in 2018 and 2020. There is something gratifying about being pushed to do your best by your coach, explained Ling, and Carpenter’s attention to the mental as well as physical health of the swimmers helps them to perform at their best.

“My old club team would get mad at you if you missed practice, but Coach Carpenter is really understanding if you’re stressed and overwhelmed and need to miss a practice,” Ling said.

Ling is loving Montreal, especially in the fall. After living her whole life in Calgary, she felt it was time for a change. So far, Montreal has been living up to her expectations, both in athletics and in lifestyle. Ling recommends Chungchun for the best Korean corn dogs in town. 

In the future, Ling will continue to swim for the McGill varsity team while she finishes her degree in the next three years, and hopes to eventually make the national team. Last summer, Ling was a project management intern for a civil-engineering company, and plans on interning for them again next summer. 

“I’m happy to be doing actual engineering courses this year, as I did chemistry and math last year,” Ling said. “It’s still pretty hard to transition from online classes to in-person classes.”

As advice for aspiring competitive swimmers, Ling advised to keep pushing: Most swimmers go through a period where they want to quit, she said, but it is important to work through that urge. Perseverance is necessary for athletes in general.

“If you push through it and try harder in practices and do your best, it will reward you,” Ling said.

Ling’s goal for the team is to finish with more points than last year and to continue producing good results. One thing is for sure: Ling will give her all to make sure her goals become a reality.

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