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.”