When she’s on dry land, those who know her best describe Angela Newlon as “extremely friendly and outgoing.”
But put her in the pool and Newlon, who has anchored her college team at DePauw University for the last four years, becomes a “fierce competitor who does not like to lose.”
“Her best races were those where she was out in front right in the beginning and worked to stay in front. She also is competitive with herself, always giving her best in practice in order to get better,” said Shea Davisson, swimming and diving head coach at DePauw.
In her four years at DePauw, Newlon has shattered several school and conference marks. She holds six individual school records at DePauw. She was also a member of four school record-setting relay teams.
“Angela has made a huge impact on DePauw women’s swimming and diving program. I foresee her name being up on our record board for years to come,” Davisson said.
That propelling drive was readily apparent from the first time she waded into the water as a child.
When Newlon was a kid, her mom, as moms are apt to do, signed her up for a plethora of activities. Among them was swimming lessons at the local YMCA. It didn’t take Newlon long to begin competing on summer league teams.
That’s when she realized something about herself.
“I thrived on competition and racing,” said Newlon. “At 8 years old, I asked (my mom) if I could participate in year-round club swimming and have not stopped swimming competitively since.”
At O’Fallon Township High School, Newlon was captain and MVP of the swimming team. She was a YMCA national qualifier and IHSA state qualifier. She holds several OTHS records, as well as YMCA district and state records.
When she graduated high school in 2013, Newlon chose to continue her education and competitive swimming at DePauw, which is located in Greencastle, Indiana, about a 45-minute drive west of Indianapolis.
“I wanted to swim at a school where I could make a significant contribution to the team, as well as developing my potential and continue to get faster. Division III interested me, because of the balance of academics, as well as the possibility to race as a top competitor at the NCAA championship meet,” Newlon said. “Quite a few people from the St. Louis area attended DePauw, so I emailed the coach to set up a visit. After just a few hours on campus, I fell in love with the school and knew it was the perfect fit for me.”
Record-breaking college career
DePauw competes in the NCAA Division III North Coast Athletic Conference, which consists of 10 academically selective colleges and universities in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The league also includes Allegheny College, Hiram College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash College, Wittenberg University, The College of Wooster, and Division III swimming superpowers Denison University and Kenyon College.
But with Newlon on their side, DePauw has made some waves. The Tigers rank annually among the top three in the league. They finished third in the conference this year.
Newlon, who was voted her team’s MVP all four years of college, was also the first athlete at Depauw to earn the Conference Swimmer of the Year award.
She said her proudest moment in the pool came at the NCAC meet her junior year, where she broke the conference records in the 500 and 1,650 free.
“I never knew I was capable of accomplishing such a feat, and that moment when I touched the wall, glanced up at the scoreboard and heard the screaming roar from the crowd emulated an experience I will never forget,” she said.
Newlon concluded her record-setting career at NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships in Shenandoah, Texas, in March.
She came to the NCAA meet with a No. 2 seed in in 500 free and the third-best time in 1,650 free. Unfortunately, she had rotator cuff issues in her right arm, which affected her performance. Despite intense pain, she still managed an all-American honors in the 500 free and all-American honorable mention the 1,650.
Over her career, she scored 83 individual points at national championships to break the DePauw record. Additionally, she earned four all-America honors (top eight finish) and four all-America honorable mention (ninth through 16th place finish) accolades.
Excelling in the classroom
Newlon has a double major in education studies and English (writing).
She is an Academic All-American athlete who finished last semester with a 3.78 GPA and is listed on the Athletic Tiger Pride Dean’s List, which requires minimum GPA of 3.5.
She was selected to the 2017 College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America’s All America team. One hundred thirty-three athletes nationwide made the list.
She said lessons she has learned in the pool also apply to academics.
“If someone can wake up at the crack of dawn to jump in a freezing cold pool to compete at a level of intense physical activity knowing they will have to do the same thing later in the evening, they can accomplish anything,” she said. “Whenever schoolwork’s gets hectic or stress from other daily events consume me, I endure through those moments the same way I endure a difficult swim practice.”
Her plans after graduation are to go into teaching or sales. Whatever her choice, her coach is sure she will do well.
“She can make anyone feel comfortable and at ease,” Davisson said, “within a few minutes of talking to her.”