During winter break, the Hillsdale College women’s swim team spent 10 days in Florida training and com­peting. (Photo: Emily Shallman / Courtesy)

Members of the Hillsdale College women’s swim team spent winter break training in Florida and com­peting in three meets.   

After training at home for two weeks, the squad spent 10 days in the Sun­shine State.  According to freshman Danielle LeBleu, the team spent a lot of time working both in and out of the pool. She added that together the team swam a total of miles equiv­alent to the dis­tance from Hillsdale to Nashville, Ten­nessee.   

 “We had doubles almost every day and lifting on top of that,” LeBleu said. “It was a fun, rewarding trip, but it was any­thing but a relaxing vacation at the beach.”

Senior Emily Shallman said although the trip was dif­ficult, it was an excellent bonding expe­rience for the team, filled with bright moments.

“I loved training outside; we don’t get the oppor­tunity to do that very often in Michigan, so that was pretty cool, espe­cially when we had late prac­tices and the moon was out,” Shallman said. 

Sophomore Anika Ellingson said the team attitude during the entire trip was pos­itive and inspiring.  

“No athlete was left in a slump and it helped uplift all of us during our hardest prac­tices when our moti­vation sunk and our bodies were exhausted,” Ellingson said.    

In com­pe­tition, the team made a splash on Jan. 8, defeating Cal­i­fornia Uni­versity of Penn­syl­vania, with a final score of 429.5 – 339.5. Strong indi­vidual per­for­mances included first places by both LeBleu and Shallman. 

Head coach Kurt Kirner said he’s proud of his swimmers who have dis­played strengths in an array of races, and that the freshmen have come a long way. 

“Some people have been emerging. Let’s just say that,” Kirner said. 

After returning to Hillsdale, the team turned right around and traveled to Canton, Ohio on January 13 to compete against three teams. The Chargers trounced Malone Uni­versity 151 – 71 and crushed Urbana Uni­versity 149 – 48. Hillsdale tied with Ashland Uni­versity 111 – 111.  

During the meet, Shallman took first place in the 200-yard IM race. LeBleu, freshman Taylor Steyer, and sophomore Suzanne DeTar joined Shallman and won the 200-yard free relay race. Sophomore Tiffany Farris placed first in the 100-yard back­stroke race, and Ellingson also won the 100-yard breast­stroke race. 

The next day, Hillsdale traveled to Ashland for a rematch with the Eagles. This time, the Chargers pulled out a win 123 – 88. Kirner attributed the victory over Ashland to placing swimmers in their strongest races and adjusting the lineup from the day before. They did, however, lose to the Saginaw Valley State Uni­versity with a final score 140 – 91. 

Next Sat­urday, Jan. 21 the squad will jump back into com­pe­tition, trav­elling to Cleveland, Ohio, to take on Ohio Northern Uni­versity and Case Western Reserve Uni­versity.