When junior Anika Ellingson pushed herself out of the pool after winning the 200 breakstroke in 2:19.57 Saturday, she pushed through 19 hugs, washed down a few swallows of gatorade, and hopped back on the diving block 10 minutes later to swim a season-best time of 2:14.38 in the 200 IM. Just a day before, Ellingson crushed the school record of a 1:02.49 100 breaststroke that she had set herself a year earlier.
It’s no wonder the G-MAC has named Ellingson its Swimmer of the Week for the second week in a row after the swim team dominated the three-day Calvin Invite in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.
“The evening felt great — everything clicked,” Ellingson said of her record-breaking 100 breaststroke. “My pullouts were fine, my turns were fast. Everything just came together. I saw that I was ahead on the third turn and I said, ‘OK, I can do this.’ I just really wanted to break my record.”
Ellingson wasn’t the only one to shatter a school record, however. Freshman Katherine Heeres swam the 100 backstroke Friday in 58.05 and finished seventh.
“Heeres is a very dedicated and hard working athlete,” assistant coach Zoe Hopkins said. “At Calvin, Heeres was ready to put her hard work to action. She showed great resilience with swimming the 100 backstroke three times in the same day and was consistently at her best.”
Heeres said her swim felt good when she was in the water, but the record-breaking score and her wildly cheering team surprised her as she finished the race. She channeled her performance at the team’s November meet in Chicago, during which she swam the 100 backstroke component of a 400 medley relay.
“I get really nervous because I put a lot of pressure on myself. That’s just who I am,” Heeres said. “In Chicago, I did pretty well in the 400 medley relay, so I was thinking about that.”
The team accumulated many personal and season-best times at Calvin only two weeks after they performed similarly in Chicago. With such a tight turn around, the repeated success surprised both Heeres and Ellingson. Hopkins credited it to changes the team has made this year.
“We have been putting more emphasis on mindset, team culture, and how to be the best teammate. Since swimming can become very individual, we have been working on coming together as a team and creating a strong support system,” Hopkins said. “This has shown to be very successful in the past two meets and being on deck has never been more enjoyable. Everyone is cheering, laughing, dancing, and just having fun competing.”
Sophomore Victoria Addis finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke with a season-best time of 1;06.82 before she finished ninth in the 200 breastroke with 2:30.35, another lifetime-best time.
Sophomore Suzanne DeTar placed tenth in the 100 freestyle with a personal-best time of 52.07. Sophomore Catherine Voisin pulled another personal-best time in the 200 butterfly for ninth place at 2:08.54. Sophomore Danielle LeBleu had two season best times in the 200 freestyle at 1:56.01 in sixth place and in the 500 freestyle at 5:06.10 in fourth place.
The team said it hopes to build off of its strong performances in the past two weeks as it heads into into Christmas break and pushes forward to the February G-MAC championships.