Hillsdale College senior, Anika Ellingson, was awarded GMAC Women's Swimmer of the Year Thursday afternoon, highlighting the All-Conference release.
The all-conference teams were compiled by a voting done with conference coaches. The release also listed Kurt Kirner as G-MAC Coach of the Year for 2018-19.
Ellingson recently placed eighth at NCAA Division II Nationals in the 100 breaststroke making her the only GMAC swimmer to place and become an All-American. She also swam the 200 breaststroke and moved up thirteen places to twenty-third. This was her third time qualifying for and attending nationals. Her great success this year, Ellingson claims, is due to her change of focus, "I started listening to my body much more than I ever have before and I paid closer attention to my mental health throughout the season. This allowed me to push my limits in a healthy way instead of just blindly pushing through each day. And I couldn't have done it without my teammates. I don't think they know how happy they make me; they're my family here and I wouldn't trade them for the world." Training by herself for four weeks between conference and nationals, Ellingson never lost focus. Head coach, Coach Kirner, designed practices to help prepare her by timing breakouts, turns, and incorporating race-day visualization.
At the G-MAC championships, Ellingson won the 100 breaststroke and was part of the winning 400 medley relay. She finished second in the 200 breaststroke.
Ellingson is also a two-time team captain and holds three school records: 100 breaststroke (1:02.32), 200 breaststroke (2:18.44), 400 medley relay (3:51.53). When Ellingson first arrived at Hillsdale, she was still recovering from a recent knee surgery. She then was starting to burn out her sophomore year and she said "swimming didn't make me happy anymore and it was more of a chore and an inconvenience. I tried to figure out what I could do to make the sport more enjoyable and realized I loved the sport the most when I was having fun with my friends. So, starting junior year I tried to focus on bringing up my teammates and trying to be a good person and in turn I fell in love with swimming again." Coach Kirner stated "She came in as an average breaststroker, but has developed into an All-American. She is a true representation of our program and mission."
Outside of the pool, Ellingson is part of the TriBeta biology Honorary, Sigma Zeta math and science honorary, and has made the dean's list four semesters. After graduation, Ellingson will be a medical scribe at Emergency Physicians Professional Association, EPPA.
In addition to Ellingson's honor, a total of 11 members of this year's team earned all-conference accolades.
PHOTO: Victoria Addis