After graduating from Central, swimmer Audrey Schank did not lose any ambition when transitioning to the NCAA Division I level.

With some challenges on the way, the incoming Ball State junior has become a stronger swimmer and leader.

Schank found success at the 2019 CSCAA National Invitational Championship when she placed 13th out of 58 in the 50-meter backstroke.

“Just to place that high out of TCU, Florida, all those teams, it was definitely a confidence booster,” Schank said.

Following the national championship, Schank was named Most Valuable Player on her Ball State team after scoring the most points in the season. Getting to this point in her college career was something the 20-year-old had expected to reach the prior year.

“My freshman year wasn’t as well as I had wanted it to go,” Schank said.

The swimmer was faced with a sudden obstacle in her first college season when she injured her back after jumping off the diving board.

“It froze up everything in my back so my muscles were tight and it was hard to bend,” Schank said. “It was pretty rough.”

The Cardinal eventually overcame the injury with a significant amount of physical therapy.

Schank returned home that summer break, which she spent most of training with her club team.

Her team and coaches at Club North Swimming helped the DI athlete improve after her challenging freshman season.

“She has the heart, she has the grit, she likes to go fast, and she likes to win,” Club North coach Todd Harvey said. “She likes to be focused and learn about her stroke and learn about her technique.”

The year-round swimmer has been with Club North since she was 12 years old. In high school, Schank traveled over 30 minutes multiple times a week to her club team, located in North Kansas City.

Schank’s swimming coach at Central recognized her putting in the extra work to become a better athlete.

“She knew that would give her the best chance to be an All-American and high-level D1 college swimmer,” former Central swimming coach Kevin Bigham said. “No matter how tired she was or whatever was going on, she was able to bring it and perform at the highest level.”

The All-State backstroker completed her high school career with a conference championship and went on to be a top 20 recruit in the state of Missouri.

Schank’s success in high school has carried over into her college career.

“She’s made some national meets with swimming at a DI school so her progression has been good,” Harvey said.

Schank is back in St. Joseph this summer, training and competing with her club team again. The swimmer will return to Ball State this fall with a leadership role as she enters her junior year.

“I enjoy being a role model for the younger girls coming in and showing them that if you work hard, you can overcome really anything that’s happened before,” Shank said.

Kristen Carver can be reached at kristen.carver@newspressnow.com or follow her on Twitter at @NPNowCarver.