Molly Goebel Earns Plenty of Recognition in the Pool
Dec. 9, 2010
By Todd Merriett, Bucknell Athletic Communications
Humbled. Shocked. Embarrassed. Amazed.
Those are some of the words to describe the way Bucknell senior swimmer Molly Geobel acted when she arrived at my office for an interview for this very story. She couldn't believe people would want to read about her. But, if there is someone that deserves the recognition, it is certainly her.
A team co-captain and three-time All-Patriot League selection, Goebel is the school record holder in the 50-yard freestyle, swimming the race in 23.20 seconds to finish third at the 2009 Patriot League Championships and break a five-year old record by .02 seconds. She has scored at the Patriot League meet in each of her first three years in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 butterfly. Last year, after finishing second in the 50 free, fourth in the 100 free and fifth in the 100 fly, she was named First Team All-Patriot League for the first time after a pair of second-team citations.
Goebel's name is littered throughout the Bison record books, listing first in the 50 free, second in the 100 fly and fifth in the 100 free. Additionally, she has been part of 16 relay teams that show up on Bucknell's all-time top-10 lists.
Already this fall, through just five meets, Goebel has 10 top-three showings in the 50 and 100 free, including five gold medals. She also won the 200 free in the season-opening meet at UMBC, and has two fourth-place finishes in the 100 fly.
"I didn't. I didn't at all," says a sincere Goebel when asked if she envisioned her success when enrolling at Bucknell prior to the 2007-08 academic year. "Coming out of high school I knew I could do more. I knew my coaches had prepared me, and I knew (Bucknell head coach) Dan (Schinnerer) would develop that. But I definitely didn't expect this at all."
Goebel grew up in New Canaan, Conn., the youngest of four children and idolized her older sisters, Martha and Kate, who swam collegiately at Middlebury and Holy Cross, respectively. She tagged along to their swim meets when she was younger and followed in their footsteps by dedicating countless hours to the sport.
"I started swimming shortly after I could walk, maybe at age four or five," recalls Goebel, who also has an older brother, Jay, who played hockey at Colby College. "I loved it from a very early age. I started swimming year 'round in middle school and that won out over all the other sports. I just fell in love with it. It's a huge part of my life. I've been doing it for 18 years and can't imagine life without it."
Goebel's desire to follow her sisters nearly caused her to miss out on the wonderful experience she has had at Bucknell over the last four years. She was set on attending Middlebury, just like her sister Martha and a number of cousins. Then, one day she received a mailing from Middlebury and it didn't feel right anymore. The very next day she called Schinnerer and told him she would be a Bison the following year.
"For me, Bucknell was the choice because of the balance between athletics and school and just the atmosphere of the college," mentions Goebel. "It had everything. I was also very impressed with the program. Dan had just gotten here and the team unity and bonds were attractive to me. Also, the fact that I could see myself competitive with the team and the league was important."
Bucknell, which has finished in the top three at the Patriot League Championships for the last decade, was coming off four recent Patriot League titles (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) when Goebel arrived. The Bison have not been able to reclaim their spot at the top of the podium, but one of Goebel's best memories came at last year's league meet at Navy when Bucknell edged out defending champion Colgate for second place.
"We were definitely seen as the underdog (vs. Colgate) and it was amazing to see the team come together the way it did," explains Goebel, who was a member of the 400 free relay team that finished third in the final event of the meet to clinch a second-place team finish for the Bison. "Everyone was so positive and we truly believed we could do it. It was great to see people step up and have the meet of their lives. It was such an accomplishment because it was a team goal. We did it together. It was not one person. It was not one race."
Coming off that thrilling second-place team finish and her First Team All-Patriot League citation, Goebel was geared up for her senior year. However, she decided to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and take a sociology class studying Italian culture in Italy this past summer. Unfortunately, she was unable to swim during her month abroad, but luckily she strategically planned the adventure during the first summer session, giving her time to get back in shape before practice resumed in late August.
"There were not any pools available to me in Italy, which Dan was not happy about," smiles Goebel, who happened to run into the Bucknell men's basketball team on the streets of Florence during its tour of Italy this past May. "There was a lot of walking and climbing, though. I hiked Mount Vesuvius, which was a lot of fun. The day I got home, though, Dan was giving me some practices and telling me to get in the pool, which is exactly what I did."
After her summer trip to Italy followed by two months of training on her own, Goebel returned to campus late this past summer as one of five seniors on this year's Bison squad that lost a deep class of nine talented seniors to graduation. With those veterans gone, Goebel is in a new role this year as team co-captain along with classmates Macey Keath and Laura Twichell. It's a new experience, but a responsibility she is enjoying.
"It (being a captain) has been an enjoyable experience. Slightly stressful at times, but very enjoyable," says Goebel with a wry smile. "It has allowed me to get to know the underclassmen a little better since I am interacting more with them and that has been a big positive."
One of those underclassmen Goebel has gotten to know very well is freshman Emily Wright. Like Goebel, Wright swims the sprint freestyle events and has been impressive early as she already ranks on Bucknell's top-10 lists in the 50 and 100 free. Not only has she helped score plenty of points for the team over the first few meets, but she has served as a valuable training partner for Goebel, who saw her old cohort, Megan Mongan, graduate last year.
"Both in high school and here at Bucknell having a good training partner has always been very important for me," comments Goebel. "Swimming is such an individual sport, but I don't think I could ever do it alone. Having teammates push me has been a major factor in my success."
Goebel hopes that success will not stop until after she hands in her goggles following this year's Patriot League Championships, which will take place at Kinney Natatorium, Feb. 17-19.
Note: This story appeared in a recent edition of the Bucknell Basketball Gameday program.