Greatest UNC Swimmer Strives for Moore
April 29, 2022
Area of study: Criminology and Criminal Justice
At the age of 20, University of Northern Colorado senior Madelyn Moore has traveled and lived around the world more than most have in their entire life. She spent her childhood on the island of Bermuda, moving back and forth throughout her youth. When she was nine, her dad’s job took her family to Minnesota and in her teens, she lived in the United Kingdom attending boarding school at Plymouth College. All the traveling and changing addresses never bothered Moore; she prefers it.
“Bermuda is so small you get island fever where you have to leave the area to stay sane,” Moore said.
Though the miles of road run short, growing up in Bermuda has left a long impression on Moore’s life. Specifically, a decision her parents made on the island kick-started Moore’s race to record-breaking success. Since the community was surrounded by water, Moore’s parents found it imperative to put her and her sister in swim lessons. Surprisingly, it didn’t go swimmingly.
“My first memories of swimming were that I hated it,” Moore said. “My sister loved it, but I remember thinking this is not for me.”
Despite her contempt, which Moore gets a kick out of now, she continued with the sport and joined a swim team.
“I would mess around more than I swam,” Moore said. “I would play tag underwater and I wouldn’t finish a lap without bobbing and touching my feet on the bottom five or six times.”
There may have been something in the United States' water because it wasn’t until Moore lived in Minnesota that she started to become serious about swimming, and she hasn’t cooled down since.
Above: Some of Madelyn Moore's UNC highlights from the 2021-2022 swimming season
Moore is the most successful swimmer at UNC to date. In the 2021-2022 season alone, Moore placed first 20 times, was awarded the Western Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year, for the second time, and represented Team Bermuda at the World Championships. She holds the program’s record in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 back, 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay and 200 free relay. Moore knew these milestones were possible at UNC and it's one of the reasons why she chose to come.
“When I first talked to head coach Lisa Ebling her vision for what she wanted to achieve for this program was one of the things that drew me in. That, combined with her background in coaching at Alabama and Rutgers and her dad was the national team director of USA Swimming,” Moore said.
Having other international students on the swim team also helped Moore feel comfortable and connected to the university. Though the swim program wasn’t the only reason why she enrolled.
“As much as I came here for the swim program, I also came here for the criminology and criminal justice program because the classes they offer here go far and above what anyone else offers,” Moore said.
Moore’s dad was a police officer, piquing her interest in the criminology field. After receiving full-ride scholarships to multiple universities, including UNC, Moore said the program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences stood out.
“We did mock oral boards in my classes that gave me great experience. I never had time to do internships but many of my classmates got them and they are receiving job offers, which shows how ready us graduating seniors are for the real world.”
Moore says she’s found a family within her team – even spending holidays with other swimmers’ families who live in Colorado – and inside the classroom, crediting Associate Professor Mary Evans for furthering her passion in criminology. But her experiences during the four years at UNC haven’t always been golden.
Nearly one year ago, after the NCAA swimming season ended, Moore achieved any athlete’s dream – she qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The problem was Moore’s home country of Bermuda essentially told her she couldn’t go.
“It was devastating, to say the least,” Moore said.
Moore was eligible to receive a universality invitation, or a wild card, through the International Swimming Federation after competing in the 2019 World Championships. Universality typically allows smaller nations the opportunity to be represented at the Olympics, however, Bermuda’s president denied that offer.
“On the first day of the Central American and Caribbean Championships my Bermuda coach told us no matter what you do, you’re not going to the Olympics,” Moore said. “I was crying in my room every night thinking what is the point, why am I even doing this if no matter what I do my federation isn’t going to support me and send me?”
With her back against the wall and pull to compete gone, Moore still managed to put on her cap and goggles and swim. That meet ended up being one of her most successful ones of the year.
“It was a last hoorah,” Moore said. “I decided to use whatever I had left in me and prove to myself that I could do it.”
There is a silver lining to Moore missing out on the Tokyo Olympics. She was able to return to the UK and visit her family who she normally doesn’t see often with her busy schedule. And there is always Paris 2024.
After graduating cum laude, Moore will remain at UNC competing on the swim team while she pursues her master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed her one extra year of eligibility. The following year, she’ll switch to training mode and focus solely on her road to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic games.
"I will make it so that Bermuda can’t ignore me,” Moore said. How is she going to do that? "I’ll swim really stupid fast.”
Instead of giving up, Moore is going to sprint even faster toward her goals both athletically and academically. When her swimming career ends, Moore is considering going into law enforcement, though what that looks like is still up in the air. And while she’s looking forward to what the future brings, Moore recognizes the significance of all the places she’s been and the connections she’s made that helped get her this far.
“Achieving the accomplishments that I have, I am definitely proud of myself,” Moore said.
-- written by Sydney Kern