"Her best strength is that she will swim anything you ask her to do," coach Rebecca Rubin said of Stephanie Czulewicz, who has accepted a partial scholarship to Division 1 Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
"A lot of swimmers don't like to swim outside the box and she's the type of person who does that and will lead her team."
Czulewicz, a Norwalk High School senior, was captain of the 2012 co-op team, which went 5-4 during the regular season and placed sixth in the CIAC Class LL state tournament.
In the State Open, the team placed eighth. In the Class LL competition, she placed second in the 200 individual medley (2:10.12) to break the school's 20-year-old record in that event.
A two-time team MVP, Czulewicz was also a member of the 400 yard freestyle relay that finished second in the Class LL tournament with a time of 3:36.62.
In the State Open, she placed fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:11.35) and ninth in the backstroke (59.83).
Her success in different strokes changed over the course of her high school career, she said.
"Freshman year I started out really well in both of the freestyle events, and then my sophomore year I noticed I wasn't doing as well with my freestyle events, so I leaned more towards the IM.
"And as the years wwent on, I only did the IM and the 100 backstroke. So I'm not really doing any freestyle events."
It's in the backstroke where her strength lies, Czulewicz said, and her focus on that stroke -- and the individual medleys -- helps explain why her younger sister, Lauren, a junior, has surpassed many of her personal marks.
"She broke all my records that I had in the freestyle events," Stephanie Czulewicz said.
"I guess we compete, but I always like to win obviously. I don't want my little sister beating me."
In high school, the backstroke is 100 yards, but in college it can run to 200 yards. The added length will play to the strength of Czulewicz, Rubin said.
"She's much better in the distance and it gives her more time to really be aggressive in the stroke. She's really strong in that race."
Rubin has been head coach of the co-op for nine years and with the program for 11 years.
She said Czulewicz is one of the best swimmers she's ever had, thanks largely to her positive outlook.
"She always had a great attitude. She never let a bad swim get her down, it always pushed her to get stronger. She met all her goals."
Czulewicz hopes to contribute to the Central swim team right away.
"I think I'll be swimming my first year. They made it seem like that. I'm hoping."
She said she is interested in studying physical therapy or exercise science in college.
"I've just always been interested in the body and I love working out. I think that's a good fit for me. I like running and I also like to do abs and a bunch of lifting. So I'm interested in learning about that."