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Elliott Mcalpine: Driven to Succeed

Elliott Mcalpine, a current junior at Eastern, has been swimming competitively since age 7. Throughout her decade of competing, she currently holds the school record in the 200 IM (individual medley), the 200 free, the 50 free, the 500 free, the 200 freestyle relay, the 200 medley relay, and the 100 IM at her club, the Rapids Area YMCA Rays. Elliott has competed at the MHSAA Division 1 State Championship Meet for the past three years for the FHNE team, placing 5th in the 200 IM in 2022, earning her all-state honors. Additionally, she competed at the YMCA Short Course National Championships in 2022 with the YMCA Rays. 

Outside of swimming, Elliott is a part of the Forest Hills Water Polo team, the National Honor Society, and the Community Giving Club.  

Looking towards the future, Elliott is planning on swimming in college but is unsure of which school at the moment. As of now, Elliott has been looking at various MAC schools, Grand Valley State University, and Oakland University. This is a shift for her compared to the Big Ten dreams she had as a child, explaining, “I want to be somewhere where I really contribute to the team more as opposed to just being a person on the team.”

Q: What’s your favorite part of the swim and why?

A: My favorite part of swim is definitely the people, which I feel like is a really basic answer. But for me, why I do swim is because I love the sport, but the people that are in it just make it such an amazing place to be. All of my best friends are swimmers, whether that’s high school or club; we do everything together. They know everything about me and we just push each other every day, and I love being in such a positive environment.


Q: Do you have a favorite “moment” from swim that you can remember?

A: My favorite moment from this past high school season was at the conference finals. We wanted to win – that was our goal to win the conference for the medley relay. And we did it. Right before we were in the ready room, which is the room that you’re in before you walk out to race and my coach comes in and says, “Okay guys, you are going to try to get the conference record today.” My teammates and I had no idea that that was even reachable. And so after she told us we said, “You know what, let’s try to get it,” and we went out, we swam, and we got it. It was so fun and just a really surreal moment.


Q: How have you managed to compete at such a high level while balancing school work?

A: I have to stay very on top of my stuff. When I was in middle school and a freshman in high school, I could kind of slack off and just push off my work till later. But in my sophomore and junior years I’m taking harder classes and my workload is just more than it was in the past, so any free time in school I’m always working on homework; I never just sit there at the end of class, I’m always working on stuff to try to minimize my homework. And then as soon as I got home every day I start working on my homework to just get it done so I don’t have to worry about it before or after practice.


Q: What’s the difference between high school swimming and club swimming?

A: The biggest difference is the kinds of people that are on the teams, but both teams are fun in their own way. High school swim is a very team-driven sport – you want your team to do well. It’s more like this in colligate swimming too; you compete for your team. It’s not ‘I want to win my race,’ it’s ‘I’m winning my race for my team.’ Club is very individualized. It doesn’t matter if your team wins or if your team does well; it’s solely for you. So you want to do well for yourself or you want to do well to improve your times. It’s not as much of a community as high school swim is.


Q: How has being a part of the FHNE swim team for the past three years impacted your swim experience?

A: I would say it definitely makes me more grateful to be there. I have obviously swam competitively since I was 7, so it’s always been there for me, but then starting high school and just being with a group of girls and then watching the seniors graduate, and then the next group of seniors and then next year I’ll be a senior. It’s just so crazy to me that you’ll eventually lose that community that you’ve had for so long, especially for club swimming. I’ve had the same friends since I was 7, and we’ve all been there the fact that in two years we aren’t going to be on the same team anymore and that’s just crazy to me. High school swim brought me back to reality and me realize how important the time we have left with these people is.


Q: Do you plan to swim in college? If so, why?

A: Yes, I want to swim in college – I feel like a lot of people ask me this and my answer has always been yes. It’s not that I want to swim in college because I want to swim that bad, it’s like I physically need to swim; I cannot imagine stopping swim after two years. Even if it’s at the D3 level or at the D2 level or at the D1 level I just need swim to be a part of my life. It’s just been a part of me for the past 10 years and I can’t imagine not doing it.


Q: What’s your favorite event to swim and why?

A: My favorite high school event would definitely be the 200 IM – that’s what I do at pretty much every single meet. It’s where you do eight laps – two of each stroke. It’s a super technical race, but it’s really fun because you actually get to race and it’s not as fast-paced as all of the other events. My favorite club event is probably the 200 breaststroke. It’s eight laps all breaststroke, which is my best stroke, and I love just getting to race people. It’s just a lot more fun than the 100, where it’s just done like a sprint.


Q: Do you ever get mental blocks? If so how do you manage/overcome them?

A: Yeah definitely in high school swim. High school age is when girls start to peak, and then they start to even out times-wise. So freshman year they all hit you, and you watch all the freshmen go through this as well if they’ve been swimming for a long time; you’re not going to get faster every single meet. So in high school, you’ve kind of learned to accept the fact that you’re not going to perform as good as you want to at every meet. But then you just kind of have to live for the good moments like conference and state. This past year for the bulk of my season in terms of conference meets and stuff like that they weren’t great. We did good as a team but individually I wasn’t performing great. But then I always told myself that I have to compete for the end goal and not day by day. Conference and states definitely went well for me. It’s definitely just leaning on my teammates and getting through practice one day at a time.


Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from swim?

A: The people you surround yourself with are truly the people you become. I find this true especially pertaining to club swimming. The people I started swim with are my favorite people on the planet. I’ve noticed parts of myself in them and parts of them in me; we’re all just so similar to each other. We all have such similar goals in life, and it’s just so fun to be with all of them. Friendships are the most important thing in life, and your friends are who you become so choose them smartly.

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