This fall was an exciting time to be a Fairfield fan.
The Green Knights girls' soccer team took the YAIAA by storm and captured the school's first team state title. In the process, the Knights created a huge buzz in the small community that had fans filling the bleachers at every game.
But while it was the school's first team state title, it wasn't Fairfield's first overall. That honor belongs to swimmer Amy Roth, who captured seven individual PIAA titles from 1994 to 1997. She also competed at national meets across the country and is now a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Swimming? At Fairfield?
That's right. While Fairfield does not have a swimming program, swimmers at the school are allowed to compete at local invitationals, which makes them eligible to swim at the District 3 and PIAA meets. That's what Roth did when she dominated the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley during her career.
After she was married, she changed her name to Amy Roth-Schwarze. The former Green Knights swimming champ is a doctor specializing in internal medicine and living in Sarasota, Florida. She briefly worked in business after graduating from Princeton in 2001, and she attended medical school at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
She still has family living in Fairfield and said she usually gets back to her hometown about three times a year. She recently took the time to answer a few questions about her swimming career at Fairfield and her life since.
Did you follow the Fairfield girls' soccer team during its state championship run this fall?
My niece and nephew (Rachel and Josh Donaldson) went to Fairfield and played soccer there so they kept me updated. I was obviously proud and happy for them.
The students at Fairfield took a lot of pride in this year's soccer team. Was your swimming success treated that way?
There was a lot of pride in athletics. I always felt supported and encouraged, never minimized, especially as the first state champ. Athletic success just wasn't something we were known for.
Most people didn't come to see me swim, but people were certainly high-fiving me when I walked down the hallway. When I won my senior year, a bunch of my classmates went around town and put up banners with my name on them. There's still a banner with my name in the gym at Fairfield. The Evening Sun and Gettysburg Times and I think the (Harrisburg) Patriot-News had me on the sports cover. I certainly felt I got my 15 minutes of fame.
How did you get into swimming?
When I was 7 or 8, I started swimming at Gettysburg YMCA. When I got older I joined a team in Lancaster and swam there for about two years. From ninth grade through high school I drove once a day to Harrisburg or Lancaster to train with a club team.
What was it like to swim as an independent and not part of a team at high school meets?
Swimming is an individual sport, and I was competing against people I was training with or people I’d been competing with since I was 12 or 13. There were plenty that did it so I was not alone.
There always had to be somebody listed as the coach on paper. First year it was one of my teachers, the next year it was my mom and the last two years it was our athletic director.
You competed in college at Princeton. What was your experience there like?
Going to an Ivy League institution is different than going to somewhere in the Big Ten. The focus was primarily academic. I didn't have the same experience as someone who goes to Penn State. The swimming aspect was not quite as encompassing as if I had gone to somewhere in the Big Ten or SEC but on the flip side I got a first-rate education. You were primarily there to be part of the educational process. Today, people can swim for a career and you look at Olympians who compete on a circuit. College swimming was where it was going to end for me.
Do you stay in touch with people from Fairfield? What is it like when you visit now?
Facebook has made that easier. When my niece and nephew were playing soccer we would make an effort to go to games. I still have family there and with my sister and her husband, we own the farm where we grew up as kids. My mom passed away in 2010 and I identify that home, where we were born and raised, with her. That's why I have fond memories.