This year, hosted at Indiana University, the Horizon League Championships featured a plethora of student athletes ambitious in their chosen sport. Cleveland State University senior, Molly McNamara, returned to Cleveland with prestigious honors for Women’s Swimming and Diving. McNamara was named both Female Swimmer of the Year and Swimmer of the Meet. According to an article on csuvikings.com, “McNamara Named Athlete of the Year Again,” she became the first Viking woman to win Swimmer of the Year more than once, and the first Viking woman to win Swimmer of the Meet this century.
The Australian native began competitive swimming at the age of 13 with encouragement from a coach during swimming lessons. During her high-school years at St. Paul Grammar School, she won many awards such as state age medalist, national age finalist and national open qualifier. She was recruited to come to America when she was 18 to began her studies and swim career at Cleveland State. “It was quite an adjustment when I first came,” McNamara said. “I was really young and moving all the way from Australia, I had never swam at this level. But the team became my family and it’s been great growing up with them for four years.” She has since excelled in the discipline. As freshman, Mcnamara was named Horizon League Freshman of the Year. In her sophomore year, she continued to swim and began record-breaking performances. McNamara won the 200 butterfly at Horizon League Championship in 1:58.79, a new school and league championship record. She also broke school records in 100 butterfly at Magnus Cup (54.36), also achieving a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) standard. In addition, she set personal bests in 100 backstroke (57.36) and 200 in the individual medley (IM) (2:03.28) at Magnus Cup as well. During her junior year, she was named the Horizon League Women’s Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year, the second Viking to win that honor and the first in over a decade, according to csuvikings.com.
This year, McNamara broke the school record winning the 200 IM to lead the Cleveland State University men's and women's swimming & diving teams. She also won Female Swimmer of the Year and Swimmer of the Meet. Training for the four-day Horizon League event takes much practice and dedication for the 11 swims she completed. With 20 hours of swim practice per week during the semester, McNamara knows about the intensities of juggling course work and practice, but loves the overall feeling of being a swimmer. “I love the feeling of racing and gliding through the water,” said McNamara. “I love the feeling of doing a hard practice and finishing it, then knowing that I have achieved that. You just find a balance, early on, of when to do work, school and sleep.”
A graduating senior and Health Science major, her future plans include attending med school and she hasn’t decided whether or not she will attend in America or return to Australia. She also plans to continue swimming after graduation for fun and exercise. “Swimming has given me so many opportunities,” she said. “It has lead me so many places, including [Cleveland State], and has given me so many amazing people in my life. Other than that, it has also taught me discipline and organization which are super key to helping me be successful in school as well!” she added.