Women’s swim team earns top GPA

Sean Hastings, Staff Reporter

The Eastern women’s swim team tied Clemson University for the highest grade point average in the nation for all Division I teams for the fall semester with a 3.59.

They also received the Fall Team Scholar All-American Award for having a 3.0 GPA.

First-year coach Jacqueline Michalski had her emotions run high when she found out the news about the teams’ GPA.

“I was beyond words when I got the news,” Michalski said. “The women’s team learned the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. Not only the highest GPA, but also three new school records.”

Senior Katie VanHootegem was a big contributor to the teams GPA.

VanHootegem is a scholar athlete at Eastern with a 4.0 GPA.

“For me school comes first because at the end of the day, I am not going to school for swimming,” VanHootegem said. “I am going to get a degree. A high GPA is really important to me. I always make sure to have my work done on time and stay ahead in class.”

She also said she holds herself to high expectations and makes sure she studies a lot for tests and makes sure to turn in all homework assignments.

Michalski also believes in school before sports.

“I have always been a firm believer that I coach student-athletes, with the key word being students,” Michalski said.

VanHootegem isn’t the only one who has a high GPA. Several more swimmers on the team have above a 3.50 GPA.

Freshmen Niki Beringer, Amy Smith, Melissa Hepler, sophomore’s Jessie Freudenthaler, Sydney Jarrard, junior’s Bridgette Bowen, Caitlin Danforth, Beth Houghton, Joann Wakefield, and senior Nikki Peck all were able to receive above a 3.50 GPA in the fall semester.

Peck said the team was so excited when they found out the news, and that it was awesome to see Eastern women’s swimming at the top of the list.

“It was one of our team goals to improve our GPA from last year,” Peck said. “We always strive to do better.”

Smith added that it was one of the team’s biggest goals for the season.

“Everyone is very serious about grades, so we made that a priority and we’re always helping each other to make sure we stayed on top of things,” Smith said. “It was really great to see we had the best GPA because it showed that all of our hard work as a team paid off in the water and then out of the water as well.”

Throughout the semester the team receives help from Cindy Miller, who is the Director of Academic Services for Athletics

Miller met with the swimmers periodically throughout the semester to discuss a number of things related to academics. She helps with choosing a major, tutoring and any other questions or concerns they have.

Since she was so involved with helping the team accomplish what they did, she also felt good about what they did.

“I am extremely impressed and proud of the women’s swimming team,” Miller said. “Not only do they excel in academics and athletics, but they also find time to give back to the EIU community and participating in community service. They are a class act and should know that we are extremely proud they are Panthers.”

Michalski came into her first year at Eastern and wanted to make sure the team had a good GPA.

“I had a goal to improve the GPA of the swim team,” Michalski said. “The women’s team really got behind me on this goal,” Michalski said.

To help complete this goal she had the entire team in study hall, even the ones who had 3.8 GPA’s.

All the hard work that the women put in the classroom paid off in the end.


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