Overcoming Setbacks Key to Savard’s Success

Christie Savard

One trait that runs through athletes is the belief that they will succeed, no matter what. If they get knocked down, they will get back up. If they missed a tackle on the football field, they’ll make the next one. “Doubt” is not in their vocabularies.

There’s no question that Susquehanna swimmer Christie Savard ’11 falls into that category. Arguably one of the best female swimmers to come through SU, she has endured meets where she did not compete at the level to which she knew she was capable. But those setbacks never derailed her intent to make her next swim her best one, and the proof of that is in the SU record books.

Her determination to succeed is not restricted to the pool, however. In the latter part of middle school, Savard began suffering from an eating disorder.

“As my weight initially dropped, I began to receive positive comments from my peers,” Savard said. “It made me feel good. Pretty quickly, though, my weight loss and preoccupation with food was dominating my life.”

Savard found her energy waning during swim practices and remembers her parents, coaches and friends trying to convince her to get help. Finally, by her junior year of high school, she took one of the hardest steps anyone can take by not only acknowledging she had a problem, but by then admitting she needed help in overcoming it.

Savard left high school for six weeks of inpatient treatment, followed by two weeks of outpatient therapy, causing her to miss essentially her entire junior year of swimming.

The treatments seemed to work, and Savard returned to high school and swimming her senior year. The following fall, she began the next phase of her life as a college student at Susquehanna.

Savard’s transition to college was not smooth, though, as she found herself struggling with eating issues again. She knew she needed to leave SU at least for a little while to resume treatment.

Savard transferred to Cabrini College, closer to her then-hometown of Berwyn, Pa., for outpatient therapy before returning to Susquehanna as a sophomore. She now looks back on that time as the year in which she finally rid herself of the physical symptoms of her eating disorder.

The word “recovery” is not thrown around lightly in regard to eating disorders, but the thought that she could be a role model may be just what Savard needs to prevent taking a step backward.

“I want to be a good example,” she said. “The best advice I can give anyone suffering like I was is to find someone that you’re most comfortable with and who gives you confidence. If I hadn’t gotten help, I honestly don’t know where I’d be now.”

Contributing writer to the Scoreboard is Katie Meier, director of athletics communications.

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