Senior Captain Sara Jayne Baldwin (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Swimming for BYU is a dream come true for senior captain Sara Jayne Baldwin. After making the decision to stay so close to home, the Salt Lake native has seen many successes in her collegiate career.
Last season, Baldwin was named to the All-Mountain West Conference team for the 100 free, 100 breast, 200 IM, 200 free relay, 400 free relay and the 200, and 400 medley relay.
In the MWC as a junior, Baldwin was ranked second in the 200 IM with her time of 2:00.27 and third in the 100 breast with her time of 1:02.27. She broke the BYU all-time record in the 200 IM and helped the 200 free, 400 free, 200 medley and 400 medley relay teams set new BYU records.
Her sophomore year was a similar story. Baldwin was again named to the All-MWC team for the 200 IM, 100 free and the 200 and 400 medley relays for her times achieved at the MWC Championships.
This season will be Baldwin’s second consecutive year as a team captain.
“Swimmers on the team look up to Sara Jayne,” BYU Associate Head coach Stan Crump said. “She’s done a nice job at keeping their heads in the right place and she leads by example. She has the whole package and I’ve loved having the opportunity to watch her develop as a swimmer over the past few years.”
Baldwin has accomplished a lot while at BYU, but it didn’t come without hard work and dedication.
“I started swimming when I was about six years old,” Baldwin said. “ My siblings and I were all on a summer league when we were young, but I was the only one who decided to stick it out.”
It was when she entered eighth grade that Baldwin decided to stay faithful to swimming while her siblings moved on to other sports.
“I just knew that swimming was something I wanted to do,” Baldwin said. “I remember when I was little, I used to run into my parents room and wake them up at 5 a.m. before practices because I was so excited to go. I’m definitely not that way now, I love my sleep.”
While Baldwin has many fond memories of swimming at a young age, there are a few that are not as pleasant.
“I remember when I first started out, I used to hate the butterfly,” Baldwin said. “Whenever my coach asked me to swim the fly, I would cry the whole time. I remember swimming with foggy goggles because I was crying while I swam.”
Luckily, Baldwin has overcome those fears and can laugh about it. It didn’t take long for her to buckle down and get started on the hard work that would lead her to collegiate swimming.
“I decided at about eighth grade that I needed to start practicing twice a day,” Baldwin said. “I knew that if I was going to take swimming seriously I needed to put in the time to make myself better. It was time-consuming, but it never really bothered me because I love to swim and always have.
“I am also lucky to have such supportive parents. Both of my parents do marathons and triathlons so they’re really active, and my siblings and I have been raised on that.”
Baldwin’s favorite memory of her high school career was when she broke the Utah state record in the 200 IM with her time of 2:04.17 as a junior at East High School. She also holds the Utah 4A record in the 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke and helped her high school team win the 2007 4A state championship her senior year.
That is a trait that Baldwin carried on to BYU. Since joining the BYU squad, the women’s team has taken the MWC title every year, as well as achieved an undefeated record for two of those years.
“We’ve had great coaching and guidance,” Baldwin said. “When I first came here, the teams were split and Stan Crump was the women’s head coach. I got to develop a great relationship with him and I really admire him.”
“I had been watching Sara Jayne for several years before she came here,” Crump said. “She has a wonderful gift for being able to move her arms fast and has a great turnover rate. I just always had a feeling she’d be a great swimmer. She’s been one of the most versatile kids we’ve had here. “
When it comes to the overall success of the team, personal contributions from the athletes are crucial. However, Baldwin also attributes the success of the team to their strong bond.
“We’re all so close with each other and we all have the same goals,” Baldwin said. “We work good together as a team, but we’re also close friends outside of swimming. This makes meets and traveling so much fun. I know that if we weren’t a close team, we wouldn’t have had all the successes we did.”
Baldwin, as well as the other swimmers, understands that if they are going to do well this year, they need to be completely united in their goals.
“This year our team wants to take home another conference championship,” Baldwin said. “Its going to be hard after the loss to SDSU, but that’s in the past now and all we can do is improve and more forward. We have to keep competing to the best of our ability and continue to work hard in practice.
“As for my personal goals, I’m looking to drop two seconds off of my 200 IM time. I’m working on it and hoping to do it at conference.”
Baldwin’s coaches are more than supportive of her goals and are confident in her performances at conference.
“Her swimming has been phenomenal,” Crump said. “She had her breakout meet last year at Conference where she broke school records and beat other swimmers on the team who are really good. She really came into her own and has made wonderful contributions.”
Because of her dedication to the team, Baldwin spends most of her time focusing on swimming and improving herself. She values this time with her teammates because she knows that her time is limited.
“My biggest struggle right now is accepting that this is my last season,” Baldwin said. “I can’t believe that I have been doing this one thing since I was six and its all going to be over soon.”
Baldwin will walk for graduation in April and graduate in August before moving to New York with her husband for his work.
Sara Jayne has been married to Tyler Baldwin for over a year after getting married in August of 2009. Last summer, they both took internships in New York and will return for Tyler’s job.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Baldwin said. “I loved being out there last year and I think it will be nice to change things up. It’s also nice that my husband is from North Carolina because I don’t have any family on the east coast.”
Baldwin is graduating with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and hopes to find a job in New York when she moves out.
“I’m excited and nervous about dropping swimming and starting a whole new lifestyle,” Baldwin said. “I want to continue to swim if just for recreation, but nothing can compare to the experiences I’ve had at BYU.”
BYU has been a legacy in Baldwin’s family with her parents, aunts and uncles attending, as well as grandfathers who were professors. Maternal grandfather Ted Warner was a history professor while paternal grandfather John Christiansen was a sociology professor for BYU.
“I love BYU because of the people I am surrounded by,” Baldwin said. “I love that I can talk to anyone about the church because a majority of the people here have the same views on life and were raised believing in the same gospel.”
BYU is more than a tradition for Baldwin’s family and as this swimming season comes to an end, she is accomplishing one of her biggest dreams. Baldwin will soon have new dreams and goals as she graduates and starts a new life in New York.
“I’m going to miss everyone and everything about BYU, and I really don’t think I’d change anything,” Baldwin said. “I’ve made so many good friends and have accomplished so much. I love the experiences I’ve had and have made memories here that I won’t soon forget.”