Burston helped BG become an international swim program

Ryan Satkowiak and Ryan Satkowiak

Now it is not as crazy to imagine an international swimmer at BG, but several years ago when Sarah Burston made her debut, it was something a little out of the ordinary.

As is the case with most Falcon swimmers, she chose to come to BG because of the team’s unity.

‘I just liked Keri Buff as a coach and I liked the family atmosphere the team had,’ Burston said. ‘Everyone was just really welcoming and it made me feel right at home from the beginning.’

Burston, in her third year for the Falcons, has been a mainstay on the team for the last two years. Her arrival has help spread BG swimming across the Pacific Ocean, as Vicky Yu of China and fellow Australian Emily Bennet have since followed her tracks to Northwest Ohio.

‘We actually didn’t go out and look for her,’ said coach Keri Buff. ‘Someone in Australia had suggested to her to take a look at BG and she sent us her information.’

After looking at her tapes and coming away impressed, Buff was determined to land her. However, a recruiting trip across the Pacific didn’t exactly fit into the budget.

‘People probably think we have all of this recruiting money now,’ Buff said. ‘But it’s kind of funny how it worked out.

‘[Assistant coach Mark Howard] Howie was down in Australia for a wedding, and while he was there, he went to check out Sarah. That’s also how we came across Emily [Bennet].’

That little stroke of luck has paid off in a big way for the Falcons, as Burston has had great success throughout her career.

She holds the school record for the 100-yard butterfly at 54.67, and has been a part of two record-setting relay teams – the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard medley relay. She won a bronze medal last season at the Mid-American Conference Championships in the 200-yard butterfly and last year was also on the All-MAC second team, as well as an academic All-MAC.

Despite all of her success in the water, it hasn’t necessarily made life thousands of miles from home an easy one.

‘Learning to be away from my family was difficult,’ Burston said. ‘That was a big change; I was really homesick at the beginning.’

But despite her early homesickness, Burston has taken an expanded role on the BG swim team.

One of the things that she also had to deal with this year – being one of only five upperclassmen on the team – was grasping more of a leadership role. She said that while she isn’t an independently-driven person and that it has been somewhat difficult, she tries to lead by example.

As one would expect, her arrival drew some great excitement from her teammates.

‘I thought it was really cool, because at the time, it was our first international swimmer,’ said Meg Richardson. ‘I was just excited, because Australia is really sweet.’

Sarah has not let her unfamiliarity with American life hold her back. She has shown success her first two and a half years as a Falcon, and she hopes on making the next year and a half even better.’

BURSTON AT A GLANCE

TREND SETTER: Burston was the first international swimmer at BG. Since then BG has had two more swimmers from other countries.

RECORD HOLDER: Burston holds the school record for 100-yard butterfly.

WINNER: Burston won bronze at the MAC Championships last season and was also named second team All-MAC. ‘