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Sophomore Eric Wood has always had a knack for making calculated decisions and weighing all options before making his move – that’s how he decided to attend Olivet College where he’s preparing for a career in law enforcement and excels on the swimming and diving team. Eric’s hometown is West Branch, a small, tight knit community in northern Michigan. When it came time to make his college choice, he felt like he fit in the moment he stepped onto campus thanks to the welcoming personalities of faculty, staff and current students.

“I enjoyed the feeling of campus immediately,” Eric said. “Beyond that, I made great connections with my professors right away. I could tell they wanted to know me personally and help me reach my goals. I felt confident they would also help me stay on track to graduate in four years and be prepared for the next step after.”

Eric has been swimming since he was 7-years-old and is hooked on the rush he gets when gliding through the water – especially when he zooms past the competition. In high school, Eric focused on long distance swimming but since coming to OC has challenged himself to improve his sprinting races. After only a few meets this season, Eric has beat several of his personal records. Most recently, he posted a 500-yard freestyle career-best time of 4:56.58 and a lifetime-best of 1:47.28 in the 200-yard freestyle, not to mention regularly beating his season-best times.

“I just love it,” Eric said about swimming. “Competing is so fun, but getting to know my teammates and making new friendships is awesome. This season, the team has a completely new energy thanks to head coach Rob Brownell. He’s helped me get in great shape and I’m confident I can still drop a ton of time in my races.”

Eric isn’t the only swimmer excelling under Coach Brownell’s direction. Even though it is only his first year at OC, Coach Brownell helped push his team to achieve nearly 100 personal bests at the three-day Carthage Invitational meet in early December. Over winter break, the team is traveling to Florida for a special weeklong training trip to continue the momentum. The team has goals to increase endurance, practice faster leave times and bond during the trip.

“Our team just continues to grow – each of us individually as a person and as a whole too. We have a diverse group of men and women, bringing together different cultures, backgrounds and even languages,” Eric explained. “It’s taught us all how to embrace diversity and positively communicate with different types of people. Plus, swimming or being a member of any athletic team is a great way to develop a strong work ethic, goal-oriented approach and time management skills.”

The skills Eric is developing as a swimmer will be essential to his career success. At OC, he is majoring in criminal justice with a concentration in law enforcement and plans to join the Michigan State Police after graduation. His first step will be completing the Michigan State Police Training Academy and hopes he will be able to serve a small community similar to West Branch as a trooper.

Eric has used his approach to swimming – diving in head first – to his studies as well. He’s a member of the Criminal Justice Honor Society, which plans fundraisers and other ways to give back, and while the class is typically reserved for upperclassmen, Eric applied for the cold case course and was surprised to be accepted. The class examines decades-old Calhoun County cold cases working alongside detectives, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials. Students have the opportunity to review interview tapes, conduct searches, uncover potential new leads and more.

“I’m so glad I was able to take the cold case course. Examining eye witness testimonies and judging their accuracy has been one of the most beneficial things I’ve learned,” Eric explained. “It’s been really neat to understand what working in the real world is like. Right now, the case my group is studying seems to be at a dead end, so we’re working backwards to look for new leads. We’ve also learned not to get discouraged and the dedication it takes to solve the more difficult cases.”

Eric’s college journey has already exceeded his expectations, and it’s only just begun. He has goals to challenge himself in both his criminal justice classes and in the pool, especially to perform well at the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championships in February. Most importantly, Eric is excited to continue building relationships and networking with fellow Comets.

Learn more about the swimming and diving team, criminal justice program and other opportunities at OC by applying, scheduling a visit, or contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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