Top MU swimmers hail from Canada

Saturday, March 12, 2011 | 8:08 p.m. CST; updated 3:44 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Freshman Dominique Bouchard swims the 200-yard backstroke against Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009, at the Mizzou Aquatics Center. Bouchard placed first in that event.

COLUMBIA — When Missouri sophomore swimmer Dominique Bouchard made her recruiting trip from northern Ontario two years ago, she was fortunate enough to have a Canadian host.

Vancouver native Lauren Lavigna, now a senior, was there to show Bouchard around and answer her questions. 

The two teammates will be competing at the NCAA Championships next week, March 17 to 19 in Austin, Texas.

Both women said they were able to manage being away from home.

"The first two months or so, I sometimes got homesick," Bouchard said. "I think the worst was on my dad's birthday, when I couldn't be with him. I remember I was devastated. But after I went home for winter break, I came back and everything was just fine. The girls, and even the guys team, made it so easy to transition."

Lavigna felt the same way. "I sometimes wish I was home for some of the stuff that goes on there," Lavigna said. "I missed the (2010 Winter) Olympics because I was here. But I like it here a lot, and I'll definitely come back (after graduation)."

Lavigna and Bouchard have trained together a lot the past two years because they both primarily compete in the backstroke.

"Its been really nice to have her these past few years as a training partner ... because she blossomed here," Bouchard said. "That gave me so much confidence that I could come here and do the same."

And she has. Bouchard has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each year.

Lavigna has made three straight NCAA appearances.

Like Bouchard, Lavigna was swayed to become a Tiger after visiting campus. Before then, though, her college search was more of a scattershot approach.

"I always knew, even when I was a freshman in high school, that I wanted to go down to the states and swim, but I didn't really know where," Lavigna said. "So I looked online on at the Top 25 schools and applied to all of them."

After receiving scholarship offers, she narrowed her list of schools.

"I had a recruiting trip between Mizzou, Western Kentucky and Michigan State, and I knew the second I got here that I wanted to go here," Lavigna said.

Both women will compete next week for the Tigers in the 200-meter individual medley, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke. 

Sophomore Cassie Cunningham will also be competing in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, as well as the 50-meter freestyle. It will be Cunningham's first trip to the NCAA Championships.

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