Two talented swimmers have returned home after a successful and strenuous season.
Over spring break junior Rachel Hotchko and senior Brie McDowell swam in the 2009 NCAA Division III Men’s & Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
McDowell finished fourth in the 200 backstroke, ninth in the 100 back and tenth in the 200 individual medley. Hotchko earned 23rd in the 100 butterfly and 60th in the 100 freestyle.
Overall, St. Mary’s finished 22nd out of 56 teams, the highest ranking in school history. This is the fourth consecutive year St. Mary’s has been to the NCAA championships.
The 2009 champion for both men’s and women’s swimming this year was Kenyon College. The championship has been conducted yearly since 1982 and Kenyon has a very long history of winning at the NCAA Division III Swimming Championships.
Head coach Andre Barbins said, “[i]t was an awesome and exciting cap to a great season.” McDowell and Hotchko both had very successful seasons this year ending with the trip to the championships.
The swimmers said one of most challenging parts of the championship was the stress before the races. Hotchko said, she just has to remember “that I trained hard and just to have fun with the race.” McDowell said, “Once I walked up behind the starting blocks, the nerves would go away and I would be ready to go! The races were tough because there were so many fast swimmers at this meet.”
After the championship was over, the swimmers felt relief that the race was over and that they had been able to be a part of the championship.
The two athletes felt their participation in the NCAA tournament was a great accomplishment. Hotchko said, “It was a goal of mine to make it again to the NCAAs, so I was happy to participate in the meet.”
Now that the championships are over the swimming team must decide what’s next. McDowell said, “My swimming career is over for now, unless I choose to do a master’s program in the future. I’m taking a break from the pool… I’m trying to get the chlorine smell out of my skin.” Hotchko said, “I will continue to train and work hard during my last season so I can attend NCAAs next year.”
Barbins said his plans were to “[c]ontinue recruiting for next season now to build on all the success of this past year. [It was a g]reat year, great conference meet, great national meet, most fun I have had in coaching over the past 11 years.”