Your Neighbor: Meet Rachel Wilson Lowe

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2024

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

Like many kids who are encouraged to try a sport from a young age, Rachel Wilson Lowe found it to be influential in several areas of her life. From the moment she hopped in the pool at Shallowford Lakes, Lowe realized she loved the feeling of being in the water and that she had a knack for it. When her coaches and other teammates’ parents saw how well she did in the city meet, they encouraged her to consider swimming year-round for then WSY (now Tyde).

“To my parent’s credit, they didn’t force me to go full throttle with practicing since I was only 7 years old,” Lowe said. “We also didn’t do meets that were further than 30 miles from where we lived in Lewisville. I think that helped to fuel my love for the sport, and not feel like it was ever a job.”

With her natural talent and work ethic, Lowe continued to improve. When she attended Reagan High School, Lowe joined the swim team under Coach Ryan Michel, the winningest coach in their history. Very quickly he noticed how special she was not just because she yielded winning results, but because she knew what it meant to be a teammate.

“Of all the elite swimmers that I have coached, she was the most humble and cared more about the team than her individual success,” Michel said.

Success was something that became synonymous with Lowe just like her high school coach. Lowe was Reagan’s first state champion. She was also a 6-time state champion: 3 times in the 200 freestyle (2007, 2008, 2009), once in the 100 backstroke (2007), once in the 500 freestyle (2009), and once in the 200 freestyle relay with teammates Caitlin Ramsey, Jamie Stancliff and Amelia Hubbard. 

While setting records, and bringing home so many wins for the Raiders, it was only natural that Lowe would be the first athlete inducted into their hall of fame.

“It’s almost surreal that there is something up in the school with my name and face on it,” Lowe said. “I was very honored and humbled by all of it.”

After graduating from Reagan, Lowe was recruited and awarded a scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW).

“As much as I loved swimming, I could play in the ocean forever,” Lowe said. “UNCW was an obvious fit, and I was really excited about the program and coach, David Allen. I felt really lucky going from having Coach Michel to someone like Coach Allen. I knew they were invested in me not just as an athlete but also as a person. That makes such a huge difference and leaves a lasting impact.

Her leadership was recognized along with her talents throughout college as she served as the captain of her swim team for two seasons. 

If not in the water, Lowe was immersed in her studies with her undergraduate program of marine biology.

“My dream job was to work with the killer whales at Sea World,” Lowe said. “I absolutely love water animals. I did an internship at Sea World and got to see how magnificent they really are.”

Figuring out what Lowe would do with her marine biology degree was something that took a twist when she met her future husband, Nick who was also a member of the UNCW swim team.

“I knew as soon as I met him that there was something different about him,” Lowe said. “Nick also shared a passion for swimming and had come all the way over to the United States from England to swim. When I graduated, Nick still had two  years left in school, and UNCW had talked about getting rid of the swim team all together, so he transferred to Chapel Hill to swim.” 

Lowe headed to Chapel Hill with her future husband and began coaching for a swim team in the area.

“After Nick graduated, we moved closer to the Charlotte,” Lowe said. “I nannied for several doctors and continued to be a swim coach until our first child, Benson (7) was born. We both came from a family of four siblings, so we knew how much fun having a larger family was. We had Miller (5) two years later, and Campbell (3). We’re expecting our fourth child this August. With each child I think it’s actually gotten easier. Your confidence builds with your abilities, and I enjoy them so much.” 

Lowe has the added benefit of raising her children close to her family too.

“We moved back to this area several years ago when my father was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. We wanted to be able to help out, but unfortunately it was very quick, and he passed away,” Lowe said. “Some of my fondest memories were going to SciWorks (now Kaledeium) as a kid where he built the exhibits.” 

Lowe’s family rallied together and continued to focus on raising the kids.

“My sister, Jill, has two kids that are older, so I’ve observed how she’s done it,” Lowe said. “And now that my kids are older, I’ve even gotten back into coaching swim team at Bermuda Run. What’s been special about that experience is being able to coach my boys and niece. I also get to team up with my former coach, Ryan Michel. I love helping kids develop a passion for the sport. It’s something I still have for swimming.”

Michel has equally enjoyed teaming up with his former swimmer.

“Rachel was a role model/student athlete and today she is a role model coach and mother who I am proud to have as a friend,” Michel said.

And if Lowe is not coaching or mothering, you can find her at the Jerry Long YMCA swimming in the morning.

“I’ve never lost the love for the water,” Lowe said. “It’s something I get to do for myself before my kids get up. I hope that the kids I coach always feel that way about the sport.”