To honor 40 years of swimming and diving at the University of Arkansas, we took some time to get in touch with some former swimmers and divers to reflect on their time at the UA and find out where they are now. Tara Blankenship (Reynolds) was a member of the swimming and diving team from 1988-92 and a graduate assistant in 1993. During her time at Arkansas she swam the 100 free, 200 free, 200 IM, 400 IM, 100 back and 200 back for then-head coach Martin Smith. She was also a member of the freestyle and medley relay teams and was a two-time All-American in the 200 and 400 free relays.
Can you talk about why you decided to come to Arkansas and swim for the Razorbacks?
I was recruited out of high school. I went on five trips with Arkansas being my last one. I went at a weird time for my trip it was over Easter break because I had proms, etc. on the other weekends. Most of all the swimmers were there to show me around. I would have to say that I had the best time on my trip, and I really liked how all the girls got along with one another. It felt like a little family to me.
What was your biggest individual and team accomplishment while at Arkansas?
Being an NCAA All-American on two relays as well as holding various records throughout the years at Arkansas. I was top three every year at the Southwest Conference Championships and won many events during dual meets.
What was your most memorable moment while on the team?
My most memorable moment was beating the University of Texas at the SWC relays in 1989. On a personal note, my most memorable moment was winning the 400 IM at a dual meet against Nebraska for our team to win the meet.
Can you talk a little bit about how swimming at Arkansas impacted your life in college and afterwards?
It enabled me to have self-discipline and motivation to do my best work at school and in the pool. I have made life-long friendships with my teammates and that is invaluable to me. Being on the swim team encouraged community and a network of support in and out of the pool. Later on in life, it helped me to be organized, motivated, and self-discipline. I am very goal oriented since being a student athlete in college. I also have the ability to share with others my experience of being an athlete in college and the benefits as well.
What are you doing now and where do you live?
I live in Plano, Texas, with my husband and two dogs. I am a kindergarten teacher in Plano and have been teaching kindergarten for 18 years. I will finish my Doctorate in child development in December of 2013.
Additional 40 years material: