Kurtz Makes it Count

Written by Luke Daigneault

Rachael Kurtz is not one to waste opportunities, and the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championship was no exception. As a junior, she’s been on the collegiate scene for a few years with promising potential, but she’d never been to the “Big Dance”—until this season that is. After missing the meet by .01 seconds in her sophomore season, Kurtz knew she had to make this opportunity count, and she delivered exceptionally. Taking 7th in the 50 Freestyle (in school record fashion), Rachael swam her way onto the wall of Roche Sports Complex among the ranks of Colleen Rickard and Linda Okonkowski as only the third ever All-American from Hillsdale.

Okonkowski, who swam with Kurtz during her freshman year, certainly left an impression: “She is a very intense swimmer. She was definitely one of our best ever, and to be considered on the same level as her is pretty insane!”

Kurtz’s rise to national prestige was not an easy one: “It took me a really long time to get there; it took a lot of really hard work.” She began swimming competitively at the age of six, but she was never really a standout. Her freshman year of high school, she didn’t even make it to the state championship. However, an experience during her sophomore year of high school embodies her turning point towards national success.

Going into the state championships in her 10th grade year, Rachael Kurtz had not qualified by time. However, she was allocated in because not enough swimmers had made the cuts. Many in her situation would have settled for the experience of just going to the meet and obtaining a last place finish. Who was she to try to challenge those other swimmers who had swum much faster than her throughout the season? She had to find out for herself.

The meet proved to be a turning point in her career. Rachael went from being the slowest seed in the meet to finishing seventh in the state. She chose to make the most of the opportunity she had, and it paid off big time.

Kurtz makes it count outside of the pool as well. “In high school I was used to spending all of my time in the pool, not really doing homework, and still getting A’s. Coming here was a lot different, and freshman year was basically the year that I got used to balancing everything.” Now, she stays on top of her studies by keeping a careful written schedule for her days, so she can keep good grades and maximize pool time.


Luke Daigneault is currently a freshman at Hillsdale College majoring in Economics and minoring in Philosophy. Luke runs for the cross-country and track teams and is involved in the Fairfield-Gadfly Group on campus.