By Hadassah Curry
A Brazilian recruit on the women’s swim team at Alderson Broaddus University is the program’s first swimmer from outside the United States.
Clara Lucarelli, 19, of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil, is a sophomore international student who is majoring in business administration and is a current member of the women’s swim team.
Lucarelli enrolled in AB on January 7, 2017. She was alone and didn’t understand English well.
“I was very nervous and a little terrified when I came to America,” Lucarelli said. “Just not having my family with me or not even knowing anyone from America was very hard for me.”
Lucarelli graduated high school in December of 2016 so she started her college career at AB in the spring semester of 2017. Most students in the U.S. start school in the fall, but the school schedule is set up differently in Brazil.
“Brazil’s education system is set up [so students] graduate [high] school in December,” Lucarelli said.
Lucarelli said that international students will notice that education in their homeland is much harder than it is in American colleges.
“In Brazil, my algebra class was very difficult, but when I came to AB, the algebra was much easier to me,” Lucarelli said. “Learning English was another big step to know in Brazil’s education system.”
Many international students choose AB because of a sport scholarship.
Lucarelli is a different case. She was offered a swimming team position, but what really helped make the decision to come to school was having the opportunity to study in America.
Lucarelli does face many challenges. She is one out of only two students on campus who speaks Portuguese so she tries her best to practice English every day.
“I’m not a shy person, but my English can take me a long time to say certain words to people,” Lucarelli said. “I tell people to be patient with me.”
Chris Chance is the new swim coach this season and he sees the effort that Lucarelli puts in to her swimming.
“Being an international student you would have to work different than others,” Chance said. “Clara works very hard because she established a great work ethic that makes her successful in the pool.”
Luccarelli says that her sport helps her deal with the challenges of being an international student.
“Swimming helps me to become understood as one with the team without speaking any language,” Luccarelli said.
Crystalynn Rathon, a teammate and friend of Lucarelli, thinks that Clara is a very tough competitor in the pool, but giving person outside of it.
“Clara is a very awesome person,” Rathon said. “She is always there to help and gives others nice compliments. She sees the best in people.”
Coach Chance suggested if Lucarelli keeps up the hard work, he believes she will become very successful during the rest of the season.
Jeremy Linaburg, a teammate on the AB Men’s Swimming team, agrees with Chance’s assessment.
“Clara is a star,” Linaburg said.