The Hillsdale College swim team just can’t catch a break. In a tri-meet with Lewis University and Findlay University on Saturday, Hillsdale came out on the bottom once again. Lewis University, swimming at home in Romeoville, Illinois, beat Hillsdale 135.5 – 69.5. Findlay topped the Chargers 114 – 91.
Individual successes deserve recognition, however. Freshman Danielle LeBleu took first place in the 500-yard freestyle and second place in the 200-yard IM. Sophomore Anika Ellingson took first in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Freshman Catherine Voisin took second in the 100-yard fly, and sophomore Grace Houghton placed second in both the 1000-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly.
Sophomore Suzanne DeTar came in fourth in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races.
Senior Emily Shallman also placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle.
“The meet didn’t rock anybody’s socks off, but we knew going in that our sights are on the Chicago invite next weekend when we’re fully rested and in our fast suits,” Houghton said.
Ellingson attributed the struggles of the meet to a combination of factors. Normally the team competes in a 16-event meet with two different diving events, but this meet featured just 13 swimming events, without any diving. In addition, there were only two short breaks in which to warm up. According to Ellingson, the team spent a lot of time sitting and waiting.
“This time of year, a lot of swimmers hit a mid-season slump, where their times plateau or get slower, even though they’re racing just as hard,” Ellingson said.
She said the long bus ride to the meet and the lack of a warm-up pool in the facility affected how people stayed loose.
With all of this in mind, Houghton said she does not think the team is upset.
“Every meet when we’re not as rested as we want to be, or when we feel mostly tired and sore, is another opportunity for us to learn how to deal with that fatigue and become more mature competitors, regardless of the scoreboard,” she said.
Head coach Kurt Kirner said despite what the numbers show, he is still fairly happy with how they performed against two rivals. He mentioned his team’s youth compared to Findlay and Lewis.
Even though the finals showed separation, there was still plenty of drama.
The 1000-yard freestyle was especially intense, according to Houghton.
“I was right next to a girl from Lewis and it was an exciting and close race – she started off leading, I caught up and passed her, and she caught up with me in the last 50 to win,” she said.
Houghton missed her best time at last year’s championships by one second, setting her up to perform well in Chicago and the GLIAC Championships.
The team anticipates a tough weekend ahead at the Chicago Invitational.
“I am looking for this meet to be a big stepping stone into next week’s big showdown for us,” Kirner said.