Four swimmers from the Cyclone swim team qualified for Nationals at a recent swim meet, making it the fourth year in a row that Mills has qualified for Nationals.
The four swimmers, which included two seniors, Erin Lucas and Chrissy Fisher and two freshwomen, Rachel Griffith and Michaela Ellis, secured a spot at Nationals during the 200-yard Medley Relay at a 2:04.63 finish during the Oct. 27th swim meet against Cal-State University East Bay.
The Cyclone swim team kicked their way to a rewarding finish in their first meet of the season that October day. Not a single cloud was reflected in the sparkling turquoise water of the Trefethen Aquatic Center’s pool as the Mills swimmers sliced through familiar water; the dual meet versus Cal-State University East Bay was the only home meet scheduled for this season.
Although the Cyclones racked up a cumulative score of 76.0 points, they were unable to get the overall edge over their competition, who finished the meet with 110.0 points. Despite what the score sheets read, Courtney Mather, Cyclone co-assistant swim coach, said her team swam hard.
“I think we’ve seen some best times right out of the gate,” she said.
Mather said that it’s hard to know what to expect at a first meet. “I was just pleased to have the team come together in such a unified manner with so much support for one another,” she said.
“We’ve never qualified at the first meet of the season,” said Lucas. “For me it felt really good because I’ve been away for a year.”
Fisher had been recovering from a surgery. In addition to qualifying for the Medley Relay, she also qualified for the 100-yard breaststroke at a time of 1:09.90.
“I had no idea where I was time wise,” said Fisher. “Now I’m really excited for the rest of the year because it’s only going to get better.”
Griffith was also just as excited, especially since the qualification came during her first year of swimming at Mills. “I really enjoyed being able to swim with the team because they pushed me to go harder,” said the Modesto native.
While the swim team was not able to win the meet, a win is not necessary to qualify for Nationals.
Nationals this year will be taking place in San Antonio, Texas on Feb. 27, providing more chances for other members of the team to qualify for Nationals.
Freshwoman Michaela Ellis is excited to head to Nationals. “Making nationals was a really big deal for me. This was my first meet in a college competition and I had no idea it was going to be this way,” said Ellis the night before heading off to a meet in New York.
“Nationals are going to be a scary, exhilarating, big change from high school meets. I am very proud to be part of such a great team,” she said.
Freshwoman Griffith echoed Ellis’ sentiments. “I’m so excited about making it to nationals on the relay team! The girls really motivate me to push myself harder and to swim faster,” she said.
Coach Virtue admonished the team’s will power this season. “I feel like everyone has the dedication and I think our team has a really good commitment level, especially this year,” said Coach Virtue. “They’re putting in a lot of time and effort.”
Loke Davis and Lola Olson contributed to this report.