What do you think would be harder: swimming across Great Sacandaga Lake and back or maintaining a high school grade point average above 99 percent?
Each is an amazing feat, but even more astounding is the fact that Gloversville High School graduate Mary-Kate Poulin has conquered them both.
The Northville resident, who transferred from the Northville Central School District to the Gloversville district in eighth grade, has made a name for herself as a star student and swimmer, as well as a charitable human being.
She’s traversed the Sacandaga twice, not just for the physical challenge, but also to raise money for Autism Speaks, a nonprofit group that supports efforts to cure autism. The cause is close to her heart because her 15-year-old brother, Michael, is autistic.
To date, her efforts have generated about $12,000 for the charity.
Although she’ll be busy this summer preparing to start college at Duke University in the fall, she’s planned another charity swim event for the end of July. This time, the effort will be held in honor of an aunt who is battling breast cancer.
The across-the-lake-and-back trek is about two miles long and takes about an hour, Poulin said.
The first time she did it, she was nervous, she admitted.
“Since I swim for a team, I’m so used to being in calm water and having the pool steady the whole time, so I was kind of worried about being in open water with all the waves and stuff like that. It’s different, but you adjust to it pretty quickly,” she said.
Despite her worry about waves, Poulin has made some pretty impressive ones in the swimming pool — she’s a record-holding member of Gloversville’s Sea Dragons swim team. She’s not sure she’ll keep swimming in college, but said she’s definitely going to continue doing the charity swim event, possibly even adding a second one at Duke.
In addition to being a member of Gloversville’s swim team, Poulin was active with the high school’s National Honor Society group, the student advisory committee and the Latin program. Somehow she also found time to study enough to keep her GPA hovering near 100 percent, and earned the position of class salutatorian.
“Mary-Kate is a special kid. She’s probably one of the hardest-working students I’ve come across,” said her high school guidance counselor, Bill McAleese. “She’s going to have over 32 credits when she graduates from high school. Twenty-two-and-a-half is the requirement.”
Twenty-four of those credits were earned at the honors, advanced placement or college level, he noted.
At college, Poulin plans to study economics.
“Once I started taking economics here at the high school, I got interested in it for the first time, really; I got invested. So I think I’m going to start there and just kind of see where it takes me,” she said.
McAleese predicted Poulin will continue to do amazing things in the years to come.
“I look forward to hearing all of the great stories about her in the future because I know it’s not going to stop here,” he said.