The Hillsdale College swim team claimed victory on Saturday when they hosted Olivet and Notre Dame College. Hillsdale defeated both teams soundly, beating Olivet 165 – 77, and Notre Dame 162 – 57.
The Chargers took first place in 14 events on Saturday, including the 200-yard freestyle, 50-yard backstroke, and 50-yard freestyle.
Freshman Danielle LeBleu won both the 1000-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.
Freshman Catherine Voisin led in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle. Senior Emily Shallman placed in front of the pack in the 200-yard freestyle, and sophomore Grace Houghton took first in the 500-yard freestyle. Freshman Victoria Addis won the 50-yard breaststroke race.
Freshman Taylor Steyer swam personal bests in the 100 and 200-yard freestyles and 50-yard butterfly.
Sophomore Anika Ellingson, named GLIAC Swimmer of the Week last week, placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The relay team made up of sophomores Suzanne Detar, Tiffany Farris, Ellingson, and Houghton, also reigned victorious.
According to senior Whitley Sowell, it was encouraging to see the teammates reach personal bests and attain incredible finishes.
“I look forward to hopping in the pool tomorrow knowing that the girls next to me are more than ready to do whatever it takes,” Sowell said.
As this meet is the only home meet on the schedule for the swim team, head coach Kurt Kirner took the opportunity to honor the senior class: Emily Balog, Mae Bass, Kenzi Dickhudt, Emily Shallman, and Whitley Sowell.
During the ceremony, seniors shared their plans for after graduation. Dickhudt aspires to land a job in business in the Detroit area after college, and she mentioned going to school later for a masters degree.
Sowell said she hopes to either apply for a position as teacher of history at a classical school in the States somewhere or spend some time teaching and learning at a small school in Africa with close relatives. After college, Shallman said she plans to take a gap year, during which she plans on coaching and taking some additional courses needed for nursing school.
All the girls agreed that swimming has left an impact on their lives. Shallman said she has loved all of the friendships she has made throughout her swimming career, and then added that her swim friends are her best friends.
“I am so grateful for the women who encouraged and challenged me throughout the years,” Dickhudt said.
Senior Whitney Sowell began swimming in 6th grade.
“The reason I decided to swim in a straight line for hours on end was because it requires discipline and perseverance, two things I am still learning to understand and enjoy,” Sowell said. “Swimming is usually characterized as an individual sport, but in college the love I have for it has only increased as I train alongside some of the most dedicated and inspirational women I know. This makes the experience priceless.”
Sowell said her parting advice to her teammates is to just stay humble.
“Swimming is a wonderful thing to enjoy, but it’s important not to forget that it is something we do because we’ve been given the opportunity to do it. In being humble, you will come to notice the many little things that so often pass us by in our busy lives,” Sowell said.
Sowel said each woman on this team has a beautiful heart, and she has been blessed to be around them.
Shallman admits that even if it is perhaps a bit cheesy, her advice for her teammates relates to a quote by Tyler Knott Gregson: “Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget how much you have always loved to swim.”
“Swimming has taught me so much about myself in terms of self-discipline, resilience, etcetera,” Shallman said.
Shallman said one can become bogged down by the stresses of school, swimming, and other commitments that one forgets to enjoy the process of learning, the joy of swimming, or the company of friends.
“It is really important to soak everything in, as your time here at Hillsdale goes by quickly. So, stay positive, work hard, and enjoy every moment,” Shallman said.