Freshman swimmer still improving

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

For freshman swimmer Ashton Pollick, fractions of a second have leaded him to positive outcomes.

When freshman swimmer Ashton Pollick was a junior in high school, he qualified for Junior Nationals by .2 of a second in the 100-yard backstroke at his state meet.

“I was really happy about that,” Pollick said.

Last weekend, when the Panthers hosted Saint Louis University, Pollick got one of two first-place finishes in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke.

Pollick got a time of 2:01.15, beating the Saint Louis swimmer by .5 of a second.

Pollick, who is majoring in physical therapy, started swimming when he was eight years old.

“I wasn’t really good with team sports, so my parents put me into something more individualized,” Pollick said.

Pollick started swimming after a friend suggested him to play.

His parents also liked the idea, and Pollick fell in love with the sport.

Pollick’s first swim coach, Jennifer Tonkyn, helped him all throughout his swimming career, from the time he started up until senior year of high school.

“She’s helped me push through all of the difficulties I’ve had,” Pollick said. “I got really sick last year, and she helped me push through that.

He also appreciated the help he received from his high school coaches Kathy Piper and Randy Willis at Richland High School in Richland, Wash.

“All three really helped me push through everything physical and mental,” Pollick said.

Pollick chose to come to Eastern because of former head coach, Elliot McGill.

He said Pollick talked to him the summer before his senior year and continued to do so throughout his final year of high school.

Pollick was considering going to University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif. and also Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, Calif.

He said both have really helped him progress in his swimming and Eastern coach Jaqueline Michalski said the biggest improvement has yet to be seen from Pollick.

He is in his first year here at Eastern and said it is a lot different than swimming in high school and in club but has enjoyed it.

“It’s been really good so far, it’s a lot different than my high school and club practice was, Pollick said. “It’s kind of a big transition, but overall I’ve really enjoyed it. I really enjoy swimming under Jacqueline (Michalski) and Rachel (McGrath).”

But there has been improvement in his butterfly times since his senior year high school swim season.

She added that his knowledge of the sport is something special he brings to the team.

“He’s very knowledgeable about the sport, not only in his personal swimming, but swimming in a grand scheme,” Michalski said.

He has also received help from some of the older swimmers on the team.

“They’ve kind of showed me the rules and the basis and how to get through managing swimming and school,” Pollick said. “They push me at practices and meets too.”

He added that if he ever has a problem he is able to go to one of them.

Pollick’s main focus until then will be to keep improving and using what he has learned throughout the year in the butterfly to get the best time possible.

His goal for four years here at Eastern is to break the 200-yard butterfly record, and to continue to progress.

“I feel like I can do it this year or next year,” Pollick said.

The Panthers will finish up its season starting on Feb. 18 when the team heads to Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis for the conference meet.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].