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Swim team closes in on record breaking times at Nationals

The Mills swim team. (Carrol Page)

Taking one individual and four relay teams to Nationals, the Cyclone swim team was less than one-hundredth of a second away from breaking the 200 freestyle relay record for Mills College, and 11 national records were surpassed by competing collegiate swimmers from across the nation.

Continuing to rake in accomplishments for the Cyclones, senior Amelia True was recognized as a Scholar Athlete and as a Champion of Character at a banquet during Nationals.

“Today, Amelia was recognized as a senior and as a Scholar Athlete because every year at Nationals they recognize juniors and seniors who have a 3.5 GPA or higher,” said first-year Nkosazana Nkululeko through an e-mail while at Nationals.

To receive the Champion of Character award, athletes must be nominated by their coach. Traits a Champion of Character athlete is based off of are respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

Head Swim Coach Neil Virtue said he picked True for the award because she is “pretty well rounded,” displaying commitment, respect and responsibility. He said she easily pumps her team up and that she is a good role model in academics.

Taking the six Cyclones for five days to the Rec Plex in St. Peters, Mo., Virtue said 28 schools and 460 athletes from across the country competed in Nationals.

Mills competed in the 200 medley relay scoring a season best by 0.8 seconds, and in the 200 freestyle relay swimming a two-second season best. They also swam in the 400 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay swimming a season best of three-seconds in both relays. Nkululeko also swam the 50 freestyle individual, placing 48 of 49 swimmers.

“Yesterday, we competed in the 200 free relay and the 400 individual medley relay and were approximately one one-hundredth of a second away from breaking the Mills College record. Today, we swam the 400 freestyle relay and dropped three seconds off of our relay time,” said Nkululeko.

During Nationals, teams must place within the top 16 positions in their preliminary races to advance to the finals. Mills did not place for finals, though they did score season best times.

“Every single relay swam a season best time, so we can’t really ask for more than that,” said Virtue. “Overall, the team did the best they could on those particular days.”

Three Cyclone members were sick during the national competition, which took place March 4-6.

“One thing about this sport,” said Virtue, “is that we can be happy but never satisfied.”

According to Virtue, many factors come into play when reaching for a best swim time. Rest, stress, sickness and personal life issues, along with nutrition, hydration and mental approach are keys for preparation.

“Nationals are an interesting experience. It’s a soup of every emotion possible,” said Virtue. “It’s challenging to stay motivated and focused for that long.”