On Sept. 17, Mac Robertson, a Zeeland, Michigan, first-year, competed in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Collegiate National Open Water Championships in Lawrence, Kansas. Robertson completed the race in one hour and six minutes and was the first Division III athlete to finish the five-kilometer course. Overall, Robertson finished 14 out of 33 total participants in the men’s race.
“It’s a long race, so there’s a lot of strategy,” said Robertson. “You can’t go out too hard. It was a whole new experience for me because I had never done open water before, and this was kind of learning on the fly as I was swimming.”
At the meet, Robertson was accompanied by fellow Briton swimmers Sebastian Tostado and Kyle Harvey. Both Tostado, a senior from Estado de Mexico, and Harvey, a junior from Milan, Michigan, finished the race in one hour and 11 minutes.
For Robertson, it was a great experience to have two upperclassmen from the team with him in his debut. Hearing some of their experiences gave Robertson a good idea of what the season would bring and what he would have to look forward to.
Early in his high school career, Robertson didn’t see collegiate swimming in his future. He was smaller than most swimmers and hadn’t hit his peak. However, he hit a growth spurt in his sophomore year, and with more intense training, Robertson made it to the state championship meet. With swimming in college becoming a legitimate possibility, Robertson began to train even harder.
Robertson said that he had narrowed his college choices down to Saginaw Valley State University and Albion’s MIAA-rival Hope College, but Robertson felt he fit better as a Brit.
““I wanted a smaller school like Albion, and I felt like Albion will help me develop my swimming and become faster in the water,” said Robertson. “I thought the other two schools would do that too, but I just felt more at home with the team here, like I fit in better.”
Swimming in open water is much different than a pool, according to Robertson. The longest race in an indoor meet is one mile, whereas the Open Water Championship was a five-kilometer (just over three miles) race. One difference that Robertson was affected by was that there was no line at the bottom of the water to guide where the swimmers were going.
“Open water is a lot different from a pool because there’s no line at the bottom like there is in a pool, so you keep having to bob your head out of the water to make sure you’re going straight,” said Robertson.
Although he’s in his first year at Albion, Robertson is setting high expectations for himself. His ultimate goal is to qualify for the Olympic trials in Omaha by his senior year and to see how he compares with some of the best in the country. Harvey thinks that Robertson will be able to meet those expectations with flying colors.
“It will be an exciting year for Mac,” said Harvey. “He and the team have some high expectations come MIAAs and Nationals, and there’s not doubt in my mind that he’ll be ready.”
The first home event for the Brits’ swimming and diving team will be on Oct. 8 when they host Wabash College and Hillsdale College at the Dean Aquatic Center.