Paige Harazin ’04 loves to do the worm, show off her newest moves on the dance floor, and closely follow Michigan Wolverine football. She has been known to “waste” many hours a day in front of her computer, enjoys chocolate cookies in large quantities, and is very fond of rap music.
More than anything else, however, she loves to swim.
“I started swimming year-round when I was eleven years old, to see how good I could be,” Harazin said. “My times dropped dramatically, so I continued with it.”
In following her talent, Harazin relied considerably on her father.
“Not only would he get up at 5 a.m. at least three days a week to take me to practice, but he would never miss a meet,” Harazin said.
With such support and her times still improving, Harazin gave up soccer her senior year at Hackley High School in Amherst, Mass., to make swimming her sole varsity sport.
Although Brown, Princeton and Harvard were among the schools that courted Harazin her senior year, she was not sure an Ivy League experience was for her — until she visited Yale.
“When I stepped on campus, I immediately felt at home,” Harazin said. “Yale was not the pretentious place I had imagined; the team was so nice, and the atmosphere was really relaxed.”
Such an atmosphere proved ideal for her to blossom as a freshman and have an immediate affect on the collegiate swimming world.
“She got up and went 1:50 in the 200 freestyle at the H-Y-P meet her freshman year and did well at Ivies,” said Yale head coach Frank Keefe. “We began to think about big things.”
Unfortunately for Harazin, she had to put those “things” on hold her sophomore season when she fell ill with mononucleosis.
“It was very difficult for Paige because she has always loved racing,” distance swimmer Heidi Kraus ’03 said.
A self-proclaimed “competitive person when it comes to athletics,” the prospect of a lost season was not an option for Harazin, who persevered through the illness.
“I consider myself a hard worker and an honest worker; I never cheat myself in practice and when it comes to pushing myself on a particular set, I thrive on the challenge,” Harazin said.
Though not 100 percent, Harazin pushed herself in practice and competed.
“She finished with some great swims,” said Kraus. “I think this demonstrates a lot about Paige’s work ethic and determination to overcome barriers.”
Last summer, a recovered Harazin stayed at Yale to train, eager for a fresh start to her junior season.
“My motivation has always simply been to be the best I can be and to reach the next level whatever that might be,” Harazin said.
And Harazin’s efforts in practice have had positive results that extend past her own improved times.
“She’s great to swim with because she’s always ready to race in workout and push her teammates,” Kraus said.
A string of victories early this season served notice that Harazin would, indeed, make a fresh start — giving her added confidence and inspiring her teammates.
“Paige has been someone that we’ve been able to count on all year to win races for us, and if she’s in a close race she usually manages to pull it out in the end,” captain Catey Bradford ’03 said. “She becomes very focused before her races, but between them she’s on the pool deck talking and cheering and laughing. She is so obviously dedicated to the team and always helps keep people motivated.”
For Harazin, it was three weeks ago at the H-Y-P meet that she experienced her “greatest reward” for over 10 years of hard work and sacrifice in swimming. With a time of 1:49.30, she set a new school record in the 200 freestyle, easily outdistancing the best competition in the Ivy League.
“One of the highlights of my meet was looking up at the scoreboard, seeing how fast she went and looking across the pool to see the look on her face,” said Bradford, who was in Harazin’s heat when she set the record. “She put in the work and it was her chance to reap the benefits.”
Keefe is quick to note that the record-breaking swim came after only three days of rest, and that with two and a-half weeks to rest for the conference meet, a significant drop in time is possible.
“She has such a fluid motion in the water, there is not a lot of resistance in her stroke,” Keefe said. “Paige is a lot more confident now than she was two years ago. If she can go 1:48.1, the NCAAs are a definite possibility. Going 1:49 in a season gives us hope.”
Harazin acknowledges that qualifying for the NCAA championships is a goal she set for herself at the beginning of the season, but maintains some perspective about reaching it.
“My goal is to make it in the 200, which hopefully will become a reality depending on what the rest of the nation does,” Harazin said. “For now I’m just going to enjoy the next two weeks and swim the best I can at Ivies.”
With all her recent success, Harazin’s strategy for doing well in the water is simple.
“Paige always swims her best when she’s having the most fun,” said Bradford. “She is one of the most fun people I know.”