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Freshman Elise Mason placed 33rd, 40th, and 22nd in her three events at the Division II NCAA cham­pi­onship meet in Greensboro, North Car­olina March 9 through 12. 

Mason qual­ified for the meet due to her per­for­mance in the 1650 yard freestyle at the GMAC/MEC meet in Feb­ruary. The time she earned at the meet was well within the threshold of an NCAA B cut time and was in the top 22 times of any Division II woman this season, which pulled her into the meet. She also com­peted in the 1000 and 500 yard freestyle events because she had earned B cuts earlier in the season.

“It was so cool to be able to rep­resent Hillsdale at nationals. It really puts swimming into per­spective,” Mason said.

The cham­pi­onship meet opened with the 1000 yard freestyle race, which Mason com­peted in. She was seeded 35th in a pool of 40 com­petitors with a time of 10:21.74. She fin­ished 33rd with a time of 10:26.34, adding some time but moving up in the ranks.

Mason com­peted again on the third day of the com­pe­tition in the 500 yard freestyle. She was seeded 36th at 5:01.19 and fin­ished 40th with a 5:06.12.

On the final day of the meet, Mason com­peted in her top event: the 1650 yard freestyle. She entered the event seeded 22nd with a 17:11.51. At the meet, she swam a 17:20.16 and fin­ished 21st. 

“I have def­i­nitely never com­peted at a meet this fast,” Mason said. “It’s always nerve-racking being in a new envi­ronment where everyone is really fast but it was good to have more com­pe­tition and watch some fast races.”

Mason said the meet was inspiring for her.

“Seeing all of the fast swimmers there helped me to realize that there are so many levels to swimming and it gave me more exciting goals that I can work for,” she said.

Mason said her team sup­ported her from home.

“My team has been such a blessing in my life. I wouldn’t have been able to make it to nationals without them,” Mason said. “They are so sup­portive and are always looking for ways to build each other up. They are truly a really special team and I’m so grateful for them.”

Kirner agreed the team was an important part of Mason’s cham­pi­onship performance.

“They have been very excited and sup­portive,” Kirner said. “The team is so close and takes pride in indi­vidual accomplishments.”

Mason said she was thankful for the expe­rience at the NCAA cham­pi­onships this year.

“I think the best way to approach my races is to go out, do my best, and have fun,” Mason said. “Going into next season I just want to work hard and let God use me in whatever way He intends.