For the fourth year in a row Mills swimming team competed at the National Swimming and Diving Championships in San Antonio, Texas, finishing 20th out of 28 schools nationally and setting multiple Mills records.
The championship included over 200 other swimmers from the United States and Canada, and took place from Feb. 28 – March 1.
Five Mills women, Chrissy Fisher, Robin Cumming, Michaela Ellis, Rachel Griffith, and Samantha Sahnow, raced fast enough this past season to compete at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) Championship.
For senior Fisher, the meet had particular significance, since it marked her third and final trip to Nationals, and her last swim meet as a Mills swimmer. Fisher provided veteran leadership for her four teammates, all of whom were going to Nationals for the first time.
The three-day meet started well for Mills on Thursday, where in the 200 medley relay, Cyclones placed 19th and set a new school record of 2:03.26. The relay included Griffith on backstroke, Fisher on breaststroke, Ellis on butterfly, and Sahnow on freestyle. The day concluded with a season best time of 26.29 in the 50 freestyle for Fisher, which earned her 35th place overall.
“Let me just say,” wrote Ellis in The Campanil blog, “I am so proud of everyone here!”
Friday brought more excitement, with another school record for the 200 freestyle relay (Fisher, Cumming, Sahnow, and Griffith) in 1:50.91 and a 21st place finish. Fisher competed individually again that day in the 100 breaststroke, racing a time of 1:10.93 and placing 13th in the race. Griffith competed in the 100 backstroke, where she set a new school record with a time of 1:04.20 and placed 19th.
The team completed the day with a 12-second improvement on their season best performance in the 400 medley relay (Griffith on backstroke, Fisher on breaststroke, Ellis on butterfly and Sahnow on freestyle) and a time of 4:31.91, which earned them 18th place in the event.
Saturday was another full day, starting with Griffith’s school record – breaking performance in the 200 backstroke, tying for 17th place with a time of 2:19.09. Fisher followed with another season best time of 2:35.78 in the 200 breaststroke, earning her 16th place. Perhaps most impressive of all that day was a 51-second improvement for Griffith in the 1650 Freestyle and a time of 19:58.05.
Besides setting school records and improving their times, however, Cyclones also impressed outsiders with their character, team spirit, and integrity.
Cumming was awarded the NAIA Champion of Character Award for displaying exemplary respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership, and sportsmanship.
“I am really proud of our athletes, who are representing one of maybe two schools at the meet that don’t offer athletic scholarships,” said Head Coach Neil Virtue.
“It says a lot about their character. They do it because they want to. They find value in getting in the pool every day. They understand that being a Mills athlete isn’t just about challenging yourself and reaching your goals in sports; it’s about doing that in life.”