When Howard University’s swim team headed to New Jersey last weekend for a Tri-Meet against NJIT, LIU and Sacred Heart, junior freestyle swimmer Isabella Fountain was looking forward to seeing family in the audience. Born and raised in White Plains, Fountain has found a second home at Howard but remains closely connected to her roots.
“I really liked my community,” said Fountain. “I just love how everything is so convenient. All my friends are so close. We all live within 10-15 minutes of each other.”
Fountain’s path to swimming began at age 3 on a family trip to Puerto Rico. The hotel where they were staying had a pool and at first sight she ran into the water. “My mom does not swim, so my aunt pulled me out of the water,” she recalled. “My grandmother said, ‘Once we get back to New York, she needs to go to swimming lessons because this cannot happen again.’ I’ve loved it ever since.”
It took her until seventh grade to see it as a serious competitive sport. That’s when she started qualifying big competition meets. “That’s when it solidified that this is what I want to do,” said Fountain, who trained and competed with several clubs, including Riptide, Condors and Middies. “It’s always been a place for me to be my truest self.”
When she was deciding on a college, she knew swimming would be part of her experience. “I knew I was still meant to compete. I never considered going to a school where they didn’t offer swimming. I knew Howard was the place for me to continue my passion for the sport,” Fountain said. She chose Howard because her recruiting trip experience was unforgettable. “You can feel that energy,” she said. “I’m a big vibe person. I felt that instantly.”
Swimming was Fountain’s haven when she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer) during senior year of high school. She thanks her mother, family and friends for being there for her. Going to practice even while undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy helped her clear her mind and persevere.
Today, her teammates and coaches are her family away from home and being a student-athlete—even with the early mornings and hard practices—makes the college experience better. Her major is sports medicine with a minor in psychology. She’s unsure of her path, but she’s leaning toward physical therapy.
“Sports medicine fits my personality because I don’t want to leave the athletic world yet,” Fountain said. “I want to be able to help athletes, whether that’s physically or mentally.”