Her school knew about her before she knew about the school, but in the end, Olympian Dawn Chuck loved her experience and brought distinction to Brown University.
"We live in a different world in the Caribbean," asserts Dawn Chuck. "I hadn't heard of Brown, didn't know it was in the Ivy League."
Brown, however, had heard of Dawn Chuck.
A competitive swimmer in Jamaica since the age of six, Chuck was attending a stroke clinic given by a visiting American coach, arranged by her longtime coach, Jacqueline Walter. Her coach had an ulterior motive in arranging the stroke clinic. "She wanted me to go to college in the U.S." says Chuck. "She thought the facilities were better."
The American coach mentioned he could pass Chuck's name on to college coaches, and soon Brown coach Matt Kredich invited her on a recruiting trip. "I loved everything about the school and the team," says Chuck, "I knew that I wanted to swim throughout my college career but also be able to focus on my academics, so Matt and the swimming program at Brown definitely had a great impact on my decision." She decided on Brown, turning aside offers from Villanova University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
She and Brown both made fine selections. Chuck won outright or shared in four Ivy swimming championships during her time at Brown. In two events -- the 400 and 800 m freestyle medley -- her 2001 teams set Ivy records that still stand. Chuck is also a two-time Olympian, swimming for Jamaica in the 2000 and 2004 Games. "I was young for the  Sydney Games," says Chuck, "I didn't know the Jamaica team or what to expect. Athens was different. The first day we went sightseeing and saw the Acropolis. I don't impress easily. I'm thinking 'this is amazing.'"
It didn't come easily. "My whole life has been about time management," says Chuck. With swimming taking up at least three-to-four hours a day, you know that the rest of the time has to be devoted to your classes and school work." And she adds, "I would have liked to have done a semester studying abroad."
After graduating with a degree in psychology in 2002, Chuck headed to the University of Florida, where she worked as a swim instructor while earning a Master's degree in sports psychology in 2005. She then became an assistant swim coach at Duke University. "I'm the only assistant [coach] for 50 athletes," she laughs. "I do everything -- recruit, do paperwork, compliance, make travel arrangements -- when I'm not on deck coaching technique."
Chuck finds her experiences at Brown directly relate to her Duke coaching. "Like Brown, Duke is non-scholarship [in swimming]," says Chuck. "As a result we do a lot of recruiting, 50 recruits to get 10 to 12. Both programs have rigorous academic [requirements]. Having been in that position myself helps me advise them."
She ultimately wants to become a head swimming coach, but realizes she is still learning. "We're rebuilding the program," says Chuck. "Duke's at the lower end of the ACC. I'm teaching technique. I'm not running practices yet."
Chuck believes Brown has provided a fine foundation to pursue her goals. "I couldn't have asked for a better college experience."
— Stephen Eschenbach