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Student at home in U.S. waters

Francine Salas has been swimming for 17 of her 20 years. “My mom wanted me to do something, so she just threw me in the water,” she said.

Salas, who is from Venezuela, began competitive swimming at age 8 and had entered three national competitions by 17. She excelled at the butterfly stroke and in medley races.

“I couldn’t imagine my life without it,” Salas said of swimming. “When you get out, you know you accomplished something; even though your body hurts, you know it was worth it.”

Salas came to Binghamton as a varsity swimmer, but left the team after her sophomore year. She still spends plenty of time in the water as the coach of the swim club, a student athletic trainer for the swim team and a lifeguard.

Patrice Back, head coach of the men’s and women’s diving and swimmi

ng team, said Salas has a great work ethic and love for the sport.

“She has a good sense of humor, which is important with 20 hours a week of practice, especially the 6 a.m. practices,” Back said.

Salas and her family moved to Binghamton when she started college. Now her younger sister attends Binghamton, too.

“This is a good school and it has a good athletic program,” said Salas, a junior psychology major. “I love it. I know so many people.”

She plans to go to graduate school for physical therapy, and one day hopes to own a clinic.

Salas is still getting used to the differences between America and Venezuela.

“My friends know that I am from a different culture,” she said. “I am not only learning this culture; my friends are adapting to my culture as well.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08