By Caroline Grier
Last year as a sophomore, swimmer Rachel Glasser made it to her second NCAA Division III National Championships. Qualifying for one event, the 200 butterfly, Glasser finished with All-American honors. This season, the junior aimed higher.
“Rachel is very focused and set some pretty steep goals this fall, after being a two time All-American and finishing third last year in the 200 butterfly at the NCAA’s. This year she returned mentally ready to work hard all season towards her goal of placing in all three of her individual events. This would also mean “when the rest of the team was done Feb. 20, Rachel had another four weeks swimming on her own, over spring break, etc.,” said Coach Kim Lessard.
Glasser achieved her goal this past March when she not only qualified for all three of her individual events, but also became the most decorated All-American in Washington College’s history by one individual swimmer.
“It is always great when you get an athlete like Rachel,” said Lessard, “who is not only talented but one of the hardest workers I have ever coached. She also made the commitment last summer to train very hard with a top swim club program, where most of her teammates take off the summer season. But she knew to be in the top group at NCAA’s, you must train more than the five-month swim season offered in D3.”
Fellow captain senior Kathy Gerhart agreed. “She works harder than anyone I know and even went to Penn State this past summer to train with their swim team,” said Gerhart.
Her bid for All-American glory began in November when she won two individual races to best Bryn Mawr 145-59 in the Shorewomen’s season opener. In her meet versus Salisbury, Glasser recorded the top times in two of her individual events. With Glasser leading the charge, the team would finish with top times in 11 events. The following meet, Glasser would lead the team again, winning three individual events to give the ladies a 110-95 victory over the Seahawks of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. In a close loss to Franklin & Marshall, Glasser broke the pool record in the 1000 freestyle, finishing in 10:39.96. She would go on to win two of her other events: the 200 butterfly and 500 freestyle. Glasser would finish November with a team best 12 individual wins.
At the Franklin and Marshall Invitational in December, Glasser would lead the team to a third place finish, win three individual events, break four WC records and one Centennial Conference record. In doing so, Glasser qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships. In addition, Glasser led the team to a third place finish out-swimming Gettysburg and Franklin & Marshall–two teams they had lost to in November. Glasser would qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships in the 200 butterfly with qualifying time of 2:04.20. In the 100 butterfly she would break both the school and conference-record with a time of 56.72. In her last meet of December, Glasser would win another two individual events to end the month with a total of five individual events.
The month of January brought another eight individual event wins for Glasser as the Shorewomen defeated Elizabethtown, Dickinson, and Ursinus. Glasser would finish out her impressive season in February with an additional three individual events.
At the Centennial Conference Championships at the end of February, Glasser would repeat as the Most Outstanding Performer of the championships. She won gold medals in all three of her individual events and broke four conference records. She also swam in four of the Shorewomen’s five gold medal winning relay teams breaking two conference records and two school records.
A month later, Glasser would compete in the NCAA championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There she earned All-America honors in the 200 butterfly and the 500 freestyle, finishing those events in sixth and eighth place respectively. In the 100 butterfly Glasser finished 12th, earning All-America honorable mention.
Lessard said, “She started with an incredible first swim this year at NCAA’s, doing a personal best time, school & conference record and placing in the top eight for the first time in the 500 free.”
Glasser now has five All-American or All-American honorable mention performances in the books and she still has another year. Her five surpasses the WC school record of three previously held by Stacy Sines ’03.
Lessard said, “Rachel joins the list of many top WC swimmers that have been All American, conference champions, etc but she is the first woman to win Centennial Conference swimmer of the year two years in a row and the first WC swimmer to be an All American in five events.”
Along with her many accomplishments this season, Glasser had the opportunity to be a captain along with seniors Kathy Gerhart and Amy Smith. Gerhart said, “As a captain, Rachel is always extremely positive at meets and she always had motivating words to say in our pre-meet pep talks. She would also get excited when anyone on the team would do well or get a best time and to me that is a great quality to have. Rachel has definitely pushed me over the past three years to never give up and without her I really don’t think that I would have done as well as I have in my swimming career here at WAC. I am sure she has done the same for others.”
Congratulations Glasser, and good luck next season.