HANOVER, N.H. — Collegiate swimming is not a sport that is for just anybody. Just take a look at a daily schedule. For a majority of the season you are waking up before the sun rises, and you have put two hours in the pool at practice before most people have spent their 20 minutes in the shower. Then after a day of classes, you go back to the pool for two more hours of practice. Then you get to go back to your dorm, do some home work, try to get to bed at a somewhat reasonable time, so you can get back up early the next morning and do it all over again. Sound like a fun day? Senior Maddie Steiner (Dallas, Texas) wouldn't have it any other way.
"Swimming really does take up most of your day," said Steiner. "You've got to have time management and swimming has taught me that, and I enjoy what I do."
As a co-captain on the 2010-2011 Dartmouth women's swimming & diving team, Steiner has had plenty of individual success. She sat out the end of her freshman season with an injury but bounced back the next year. In her sophomore season, she set school records in the 200 individual medley (2:05.01) and the 200 freestyle (1:51.81). She was also part of setting the school record in the 200 freestyle relay, the 400 freestyle relay and the 800 freestyle relay. She was also the team's Most Valuable Player. Her junior season, she broke her own record in the 200 freestyle (1:51.49) by three-tenths of a second. She again was the team's MVP and was the leading point scorer at the Ivy League Championship.
"After missing the Ivy League Championship her freshman season she was persistent in coming back," said assistant swimming coach Jesup Szatkowski. "She came back to the team and set 5 varsity records the following year. She is always willing to do whatever is necessary for the team to be successful."
Steiner decided to come to Dartmouth, from the heart of Texas, after going on a series of recruiting trips. She said she visited four schools and none of them really felt like a fit. But after touring the campus and meeting the people she applied early after finding what she said was her match. After three years of competition, she has moved into the role of co-captain. Steiner was preparing if the opportunity arose, and really takes pride in the responsibilities she has.
"Last year I kind of observed the captains, thinking that was something I might be doing this year," said Steiner. "A lot of what I do as a co-captain is be a liaison between the coach and the team. We try to make sure everybody is staying on top of their stuff, and if there is an issue we go to the coaches. It's added work, but I enjoy it."
Outside of the pool, Steiner has also been busy. Besides schoolwork, she has done community service work with the swim team. She participates in swim school every year to help the team raise money for its winter training trip. Swim school is when the swimmers on the men's and women's team teach the youth of the Upper Valley how to swim.
"It's really fun to teach the kids at swim school," said Steiner. "You might get a professor's child or one of the athletic director's kids, and it's fun to teach them. Most kids hate water, but eventually they get used to it."
The money the team raises at swim school, along with other fundraisers, goes toward the annual winter training trip. The trip is a two-week span in December where the team travels to a warmer weather climate and trains during break. This season the team is going to St. Croix and Puerto Rico.
"It is two weeks of probably the hardest training you will do ever," said Steiner. "It's a lot of fun, but really it's just eat, sleep and swim."
All the training from year's past, along with an incoming freshman class is making its impact this season. The Big Green squad beat Cornell and Brown, and will return to competition in January. The dual meet win over Brown was the first time in Dartmouth's history it has defeated the Bears.
"I can't even tell you how exciting this year has been," said Steiner. "We have this incredible class of '14's, and they sort of picked the entire team up. We are now heading in a completely different direction and we've never done some of these things before.
After the season, Steiner is looking forward to taking a break from the pool, but doesn't think she'll take an extended break. Instead, she believes she'll get involved in Master's swimming. Masters swimming is for anyone, whether or not you swam in high school or college. It is recreational, but there are competitions for people who want to do that. Steiner mentioned that the Dartmouth graduates take it pretty seriously even though it's just recreational.
"I'll probably take a break from the pool for a year or two," said Steiner. "But most of our alumni end up doing Masters swimming. I don't see myself doing it next year, but probably the year after."
After spending the majority of her life in the pool, it's not all that surprising that the self motivator will continue to find ways to get into the pool.