Hannah Lawson: Making Waves at SLC

Lawson takes a breath while swimming the 200 medley at a meet photo by Tony Correa

Lawson takes a breath while swimming the 200 medley at a meet
photo by Tony Correa

She may have only been on the swim team for a less than a year, but Hannah Lawson (’18) is already making splashes in and out of the pool.

Swimming is a sport that seems to come naturally to the Portland, Oregon native. Lawson began swimming when she was quite young, her first experience was with a Summer Swim League at eight years old, and now she works as a swim instructor at SLC. Hannah is no ordinary swimmer; she’s also a record breaker. In her events, Freestyle and Breaststroke, Hannah has broken the 100 Breaststroke, 200 Breaststroke and is a member of the record-breaking relays in the 200 Medley, 400 Medley, 200 Freestyle and 400 Freestyle.

One might think it might be hard to balance and excel at a collegiate sport while balancing classwork, but Hannah sees things differently. “No, it’s not very difficult at all [to balance everything],” she said. “It’s only 90 minutes a day and I think performing athletic activity is important for having a healthy lifestyle.

Hannah has led quite an interesting life pre-Sarah Lawrence. During high school, she spent a year studying abroad in India.  “I wanted to go somewhere completely different than the United States […] I went in with an open mind. It was weird at first with cows on the street and such.”

Although the culture shock did not affect her as much when she went, she said she felt it more when she came back and it is something she is still processing. Still, Hannah looks back on the trip with fondness and speaks of how she and her host family still speak on a regular basis. “They’re like my second family,” she said.

Whether speaking to her about India or swimming, her enthusiasm shows and her peers and mentors alike see it too during competition.

“Hannah […] loves to compete,” said Head Swimming Coach Eric Mitchell. “She knows how to set goals and once she has her sights on it she works until she achieves it. It’s always nice to see qualities like that in young people.

“She has a silent determination about her and works very hard, is competitive, and it pays off,” agreed team member Brenna Rice (’15), “but she is also very collected during meets.”

On January 30 and 31, the Sarah Lawrence Women’s Swim Team competed in the 2015 Skyline Women's Swimming Championship. “Women got Second [place] and it was our first time competing [at a Championship level]. We brought it in,” Lawson said of the event.  This was not the only accomplishment Hannah has achieved while competing at the Skyline Conferences. She has been named Rookie-of-the-Week five times and earned all-conference honors at the Championship.

Mitchell sees this as indicative of how Hannah has grown over the course of the season. “As a competitor, she has gained more confidence over the season. As a person she has really opened up,” he said. “At the beginning of the year she a bit more reserved as she was trying to acclimate to college life. Now she is more outgoing and talkative, at least to me. I think she has grown to trust me and believe in what she is doing.”

The Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association Championship marked the final swim meet of the year, which stretched over the course of four days and lasted six hours per day. Any non-swimmer would be tired just thinking about competing for 24 hours, but Hannah was excited for the event. 

“I think it’s going to go great,” she said. We’re competing in Rochester and it’s going to be a long and hard but, I think it will go well.”

“She has been working hard and preparing for this meet,” Coach Mitchell said. “I am excited to see how fast she will swim in a few weeks.

On the first day of the competition, Lawson competed with three other teammates, Gabby Risica (‘17), Colette Harley (‘17), and Jacqueline Quirk (‘17), to set a SLC 200 yard medley relay record. The foursome stopped the clock in 1:59.17 which challenged their previous record by a second. On the third day of Championships, Lawson broke the SLC 100 meter breastroke record when she clocked in at 1:08.82. But, Lawson wasn’t finished yet. The following day, she broke another SLC record with the 200 yard breaststroke. It is evident that Lawson is a serious and determined athlete that is committed and passionate about her sport. 

What started out as a fun activity for Hannah has become a regular part of her everyday life. Although the season is coming to a close, and the new one not set to begin until November, Hannah does not plan on taking a break anytime soon.

“Oh definitely,” she said, when asked if she plans to continue swimming. “I mean I don’t plan on going to the Olympics or anything, but I plan to swim for the rest of my life.”

By Mary Kekatos ’15

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Men’s and Women’s Swimming Raise Money with Lap-a-Thon

In order to participate on a competitive level, any sports team needs funding for things like transportation and lodging to accommodate events farther away than a day trip. In order to meet their financial needs, both the Men’s and Women’s Swimming teams returned to campus a week early from winter break to both practice for their upcoming season and hold a lap-a-thon fundraiser on Wed. Jan. 13. 

The team had the group fundraising goal of $4,000, and individual goals of $200. Donors could pledge flat amounts to the athletes, or donate based upon the number of laps that they swam up to 10,000 yards—that is 5.8 miles in the pool. At the event, each athlete had three hours to swim as many laps as physically possible, with the only rule being that they could not use assistive gear like fins to help them.

What made the lap-a-thon a challenge for the athletes was its timing—the event took place during the middle of their winter training week. By the time it was time to hop in the pool for the fundraiser, the women had already been pushed to their physical limits after days of strenuous training for their upcoming season. 

“I would do things during my sets so that I wouldn’t get bored or too exhausted,” swimmer Sky Mihaylo ('17) explained of her efforts during the lap-a-thon. “Many of us on the team have trouble with our shoulders from being overused or using poor technique. I was one of those unfortunate souls, so it was nice to have an opportunity to cater to my physical pain in this workout by incorporating a lot more backstroke than I normally would.” The lap-a-thon was less strenuous than the athletes’ regular practices in that each participant could use less strenuous strokes and go at their own paces to achieve goal yardage in the pool. Most of the athletes completed their sets using freestyle swim and breaststroke kick techniques.

On average, each swimmer swam around 6,000 yards, and collectively the athletes swam 72 miles. Together, they were able to surpass their $4,000 goal. The teams will use their raised funds to pay for a trip to Rochester, NY later on in the semester, where they will compete in the four-day Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association (UNYSCSA) Swim Meet. “It gives us the opportunity to compete in a large meet setting, as well as to compete against new teams that we normally wouldn’t swim against,” added Colette Harley (‘17). Competing against a wider variety of teams and athletes will help the team to develop their own skills in a more competitive setting than they normally experience.

This lap-a-thon and swimming season follows a massively successful last season, where both Men’s and Women’s Swimming broke through a number of personal and team records. They held their own at the Skyline Conference and the women even won the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) competition for the fifth year in a row.
As their current season draws to a close, coach Eric Mitchell is pretty positive that the teams will be able to continue their strong performances. “This weekend we have the Skyline Championships hosted by Maritime College in the Bronx,” he said. “The women are ranked second in the conference and the men are fourth. We look to improve upon those rankings.” You can keep up with the swimmers at GoGryphons.com, and by cheering them on whenever they swim at the Campbell Sports Center.

By Wade Wallerstein ’17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Cameron Martinez: The man, the myth, the mermaid

Photo by   Geneva Baldauf ‘15

Photo by Geneva Baldauf ‘15

The Campbell sports center is frequented by a single figure swimming back and forth in lane six, all the way to the right, with methodical strokes. Rarely seen without  black cap and black prescription goggles, this figure is Cameron Martinez (‘16)     

A native of Aledo, Texas, Martinez stands at six-foot-one, wears thin glasses, and has naturally blonde hair and blue eyes. In his time at Sarah Lawrence has broken 13 of the college’s men’s swimming records and was named Athlete of the Year by the Sarah Lawrence Athletics Department for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014. He has served as the men’s team captain during the 2013-2014 season and  holds eight individual records and five relay records.

In February, when the Gryphons travelled to Ithaca, New York for the Upper New York State Coaches Association (UNYSCSA) Championships, Martinez placed first in the 200-yard butterfly and 100-yard butterfly, and third  in 200 yard Individual Medley. He was named UNYSCSA Mark Randall Swimmer of the Meet and his times earned him NCAA Division 3 “B-cuts.”*

Photo by Geneva Baldauf '15

Photo by Geneva Baldauf '15

Martinez is relatively new to swimming, having gotten his start freshman year of high school. Initially a baseball player (and still a fan of the Texas Rangers), Martinez switched to swimming after an injury prevented him from making his high school baseball team.

“I decided to make swimming a priority,” Martinez said. “I swam freshman year, and the summer after freshman year I didn’t train.” It was the beginning of his junior year that Martinez began to get serious about swimming. “My senior year was when I started swimming well. But by that point, it was February and it was too late to get recruited anywhere.”

Martinez did not look at swimming at any other schools, undeterred by the fact he would be a big fish in a small pond.

“It’s nice, chill. I can do my thing,” he said, although he admits it gets frustrating when it is just him. “Back home, when we’re doing a set and a 15-year-old is beating me, it pushes me to try harder, where as here it’s harder to tell so I just go.”

Martinez is an integral part of the men’s swim team, often leading the team in group stretches and offering advice before races. After placing first in the 200 butterfly at UNYSCSA, he turned to his teammates cheering at the other end and made a heart symbol with his hands.

The highlight of last season for Martinez came during UNYSCSA. “Winning the 100 butterfly, and Dzana [co-captain Alexandra Ashworth, ‘14] crying after I won. I really didn’t expect to win the 100 butterfly, so that was really great.”

During the height of swim season, Martinez estimated he spent 15 hours a week in the pool and seven hours a week doing dryland, such as CrossFit. More specifically, he practiced twice a day four days a week and once a day two days a week, taking a break on Sundays.

When not in the pool, Martinez is a theater third and an aspiring filmmaker. He hopes to pursue filmmaking in various mediums such as television and feature films. “Even theater has sparked my interest, so plays and musicals are possibilities,” he said of future creative endeavors.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching and creating movies. His favorite food to order at the Pub is either the Ranch Hand Special or the soft tacos. In addition to swimming, Martinez also competes on the Sarah Lawrence Men’s Volleyball team.

Martinez attributes several people to his success, most notably his two coaches, Sarah Lawrence Swimming’s head coach, Eric Mitchell, and his coach from Texas, Andrew Ha.

“Without a coach, I wouldn’t go anywhere. Eric recruited me.” said Martinez. After a bad high school experience, he was wary to switch coaches, “but Eric knows what he’s doing,” he said.

“[Andrew] Ha is my club swim coach [Sigma Performance Swimming]. It’s nice to have him because [Andrew] and Eric have different styles and different perspectives. Andrew got me into swimming and taught me a lot about technique.”    

Although Cameron has swam most of the events in collegiate swimming, his favorite is the 200 butterfly.  “[The 200 fly] gives me time to get myself going. 100 Fly is too quick, whereas the 200 fly, I feel like I get something out of it.”

This summer, Cameron has been working at the Sports Center at Sarah Lawrence, as well as training with a local swim club, the Marlins. He recently competed in the 2014 Speedo Championship Series Long Course “Super Sectional,”where he placed 13th in the 100-meter butterfly and 21st in the 200-meter  butterfly.  

“Sectionals went fairly well. I dropped time in all my events; however, I did not go the ties I would have liked to go. Overall, I’d say my summer season was successful in preparing me for the school season,” said Martinez of the meet.

“I’m looking forward to having a faster team all around, and having this team be able to compete on an entirely new level that we’ve never done before,”

The men and women’s swim teams begin practice on Sept. 22, 2014 and have their first meet on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

 *“B-cuts” refers to times specified by the NCAA that do not guarantee athlete's entry into NCAA Division # championships. Instead, these athletes may be extended an “invitation” to participate. Opposed to an A Cut, which guarantees a swimmer entry into NCAA Championships, B-Cuts tend to be slightly slower. Not everyone that obtains a B-Cut is invited.

by Colette Harley '17
Sports Editor