The Hillsdale College Chargers defeated Olivet College and fell to Tiffin University in a tri-meet on Friday. Freshman Anna Clark dominated the meet and broke Olivet’s pool record in the 200 butterfly, finishing in 2 minutes and 13.24 seconds. Clark said she has been swimming with the stroke and distance group, giving her more more opportunities to practice the butterfly.
“I’ve been able to practice pacing my 200 fly more often, which has given me more confidence and experience to execute my race plan,” Clark said. “I didn’t put that much pressure on myself to break the record. I just wanted to swim the race how I plan to at the G‑MACs.”
Assistant coach Zoe Tracey said Clark is one of the hardest workers on the team and that the achievement is a result of Clark’s hard work and tenacity.
“She always gives her best effort, even on the toughest of practices,” Tracey said. “I’ve never heard her complain about anything. She takes on any challenge with a smile.”
Senior Anika Ellingson was also recognized for a second time this season as G‑MAC Player of the Week.
Sophomore Katherine Heeres finished first in the 200 individual medley in 2:18.38, three seconds ahead of sophomore Mary Vita, who took second. Heeres said she attributes her success to her consistent IM training and her enjoyment of the race.
“The general strategy that I abide by is to simply focus on optimizing my best strokes — [butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle] — while minimizing my weak stroke, which is [breaststroke],” Heeres said.
Head coach Kurt Kirner said he’s training the swimmers to connect the type of training they do every day with the specifics necessary to succeed in their races.
“They need to take calculated risks, even though their minds would rather stay in the safe zone,” Kirner said of his team’s strategies. “The only way for them to get better is to swim at the very extremes of their capabilities.”
At their final meet of the regular season on Saturday, the Chargers defeated Ohio Northern University, but lost to Case Western University.
Kirner said he held three goals for the swimmers at Saturday’s tri-meet. First, he wanted his swimmers to compete in the events they needed times in. Second, he wanted to beat Ohio Northern. Third, he wanted to match up good races for his best swimmers against Case Western and Ohio Northern.
Ellingson said the physical and mental demand of the meet threw the team off and they weren’t able to swim to their potential. Since training had been especially rigorous in recent weeks, Ellingson said it was a test of the mental stamina of the team.
“I think something the team can focus on for the next few weeks is understanding that our body was at its most tired training-wise this week,” Ellingson said. “But it primed us for taper.”
Despite the loss against Case Western, Kirner said the team learned a lot from defeating Ohio Northern and from their individual race wins.
“We learned that we need a resilient nature to fight through fatigue and adversity,” Kirner said. “We still have work to do with a few of our athletes and their ability to swim whatever is necessary for our team’s cause.”
With G‑MACs coming up, junior Catherine Voisin said the coaches are focused on perfecting all aspects of each swimmer’s races. Swimming fast in practices and looking at the little details will carry into their meet performances at G‑MACs.
“I think we’re in great shape after our hard work last semester,” Voisin said. “Right now, we’re starting to taper for our muscles to recover and to be strong enough for the G‑MACs in two weeks.”
The G‑MAC Championships begin on Feb. 13 in Canton, Ohio, and will last four days.