Cats’ MacMillan swims laps around competition

One might imagine that after shattering a rash of pool records in just her fourth collegiate meet, UVM freshman swimmer Molly MacMillan would have something to boast about. However, for the Doylsetown, PA native, individual accolades could not be further from her mind. “For me, swimming is about improving and having a personal record,” she said. “That’s what I always shoot for. Breaking the record was just awesome on top of that.” However modest, it would be tough for even MacMillan to deny the excellence of her performance thus far. In the Nov. 4 181-119 loss to UNH, MacMillan led the Cats, breaking two pool, varsity, and freshmen records.Not only did MacMillan re-write the record books for the 100 (59.69) and 200 (2:07.62) backstroke events, but she was also a winner on the 400 freestyle relay team (3:40.28) that qualified for the ECAC’s. What is most remarkable is that MacMillan, who grew up swimming against boys, had never swum the 200 before. “It’s pretty crazy,” she said. “I came here expecting to do well, but I never anticipated to do that well.”Branched from a swimming-oriented family tree, MacMillan credits much of her success to her competitive upbringing. MacMillan’s mother, Kathleen, competed at the University of South Carolina and went to the Olympic Game trials. Genetics aside, MacMullan’s mother was instrumental in her swimming initiation for another reason. “My three sisters and I all started swimming because our mom didn’t want us to drown in the ocean.” Now MacMillan could probably swim across it, fast. However, MacMillan – who chose UVM over Dartmouth, Cornell and Penn Sate – would not want to swim it alone. For the freshman star, one of swimming’s greatest pleasures comes from feeling a sense of team unity. “Just being on a team it gives you a really good group of friends that are always there for you,” she said. “When you look up at the board and see your times improve together it’s the best feeling.”We’ve been working really hard since day one. Everyone really respects each other and works hard for each other. As much as swimming seems like an individual sport, it is really so much of a team sport.” What makes MacMillan such a phenom is her uncanny ability to succeed under pressure. Balancing academics can be tough enough for a student. Add on the physical, emotional, and mental weight of being an athlete and the combination can be overwhelming. MacMillan finds a way to flourish under such circumstances.”I feel like I do well under pressure,” she said. “I thrive when I have a lot of stress. It really forces you to manage your time and work ahead.” Try to keep up with MacMillan and you’ll likely be lapped. Modestly personable and athletically gifted, she deflects the spotlight of her accomplishments, credits teammates enormously and takes pride in being part of a team. Still, MacMillan’s love for swimming comes down to one thing.”I love to beat people.”What did you expect? She’s used to swimming with boys anyway.