Five consecutive years of swimming at the New York State Championships and maintaining a grade point average (GPA) above 3.0 positioned Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk senior Gillian Burch for acceptance into the West Point Military Academy. Burch, who has been swimming for seven years, set her sights on the school in eighth grade and never gave up her dream.
“I set my mind to it and I’ve worked so hard to get to this point,” Burch said.
It was never a question for Josh Wolin who has coached Burch since the beginning of her swimming career. He says Burch’s focus and work ethic are what set her apart from other student athletes.
“She is willing to take on challenges every single day,” Wolin said. “She doesn’t let too many things get her sidetracked.”
Varsity swim coach Elyse Loughlin shares Wolin’s sentiments.
“As a coach, she’s a once-in-a-lifetime athlete,” Loughlin said. “Many times when kids have as much talent as Gillian has, they don’t want to work any harder than what their talent already got them. And it’s hard to convince them to. But, that was never a problem with Gillian.”
Burch says the sport came naturally to her but that she is always striving to improve. She now plans to use those skills on the swim team at West Point. She will also put her academic skill to work, considering studying environmental sciences or environmental engineering.
“I’m still not totally sure what I want to do but I think West Point will allow me to figure out what I want to do,” Burch said.
Josh Dibble, a 2004 RCS graduate and West Point graduate is now a teacher at the Academy. He put a special package together for Burch.
“I sent a note out to my swimmers that I have in class and asked them to give her advice,” Dibble said. He packaged up the advice and delivered it to Burch at the Letter of Intent signing.
Excited and nervous for her new endeavor, Burch said, “I’m looking forward to the challenge and the change.”