She’s been serious about the sport of swimming since she was 9 or 10.
That level of dedication has allowed Lewis Central senior Zoe Pawloski to pursue her passion at the Division I level.
Pawloski recently accepted a walk-on opportunity to compete at the University of Iowa. She will join the program in the fall and have the chance to earn scholarship money as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to go D-I,’’ Pawloski said. “It was pretty cool when colleges started reaching out to me, because it was like one of my dreams was coming true.’’
Northern Iowa was the first Division I school to contact Pawloski, before state during her senior season, which was last fall. She also drew interest from Iowa State, but after visiting Iowa in early December, she soon accepted their offer to join the team.
“I feel like I can drop a lot of time there and I’m excited,’’ she said.
As a senior at Lewis Central, Pawloski finished fourth in the state in the 100 backstroke and seventh in the 200 freestyle. She placed sixth in the 100 backstroke and seventh in the 200 freestyle as a junior. A four-year state qualifier, she also took eighth in the 500 freestyle as a freshman.
Pawloski expects to specialize in the backstroke in Iowa City and perhaps compete in the mid-distance to distance freestyle events.
The Iowa women are 4-6 in duals this season entering their final dual on Friday at home against Northern Iowa and Western Illinois.
Iowa will host the men’s Big Ten Championships in 2019 and the women’s Big Ten Championships in 2020. The Hawkeyes will also host the 2021 men’s NCAA Championships.
Pawloski currently is swimming for the Council Bluffs Swim Club. There are big meets in Columbia, Missouri, March 7 to 11, and in Lincoln, Nebraska, the following weekend. Respected veteran Bruce Schomburg has been her club and high school coach throughout her career.
“She’s very competitive,’’ he said. “She’s good in everything. She grew up in the club program and learned all the strokes.’’
Most casual fans don’t understand the level of discipline it takes to become a Division I swimmer. Pawloski said it’s made her a better person.
“It’s definitely taught me hard work and dedication,’’ she said. “I’ve given up a lot of time for swimming, and it’s probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to me in my life.
“Putting in that work every single day to get up to the point where I want to be to reach my goals is amazing, and I’m super thankful for the sport.’’