Four days per week, at precisely 5:18 a.m., Molly Hill’s alarm clock lets her know she has exactly eleven minutes to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, eat it and be out of her driveway on the way to a 5:45 a.m. warm-up, ahead of her 6 a.m. swim practice.
These early mornings come with a smile for Hill.
“I love swimming so much that I look forward to the early mornings. I hate missing any practice, and this routine is one I’ve come to really enjoy,” said the 17-year-old Kelowna Aquajet.
Her love of swimming, positive attitude, commitment and time management have earned Hill a full scholarship to swim for the New Mexico State University Aggies next fall.
Her parents, Kelly and Mike Hill, remember a five-year-old who loved the water so much they enrolled her with the Aquajets. She quickly progressed, breaking age category records by the time she was 10-years-old, and completing the Across The Lake Swim at the same age.
Hill remembers it didn’t initially start easily.
“After my first week at the club, they moved me down a category because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t care, I just loved it so much and was excited that I had friends around me.”
While her impressive physical stature may lead some to believe she was a natural for the sport, Aquajet head coach Emil Dimitrov believes Hill’s success is rooted in her personality.
“Molly is a workaholic; determined, competitive and intelligent,” said Dimitrov. “She is very coachable and still has so much potential. In a sport that requires intense dedication, she is the perfect teammate. She is caring, understanding, supportive and has helped create a great environment around our pool.”
With limited time off, the KSS student studies hard, and has not sacrificed her academic goals in favour for her athletic ones.
“My plan is to earn a biology degree at NMSU over four years, then take a two-year degree in B.C. in dental hygiene,” said Hill.
“I had braces for a long time. I’m strange in that I’m one of the few people that absolutely loves going to the dentist.
She said one of the reasons she chose to accept the NMSU scholarship was the quality of their biology program, and that the swim team makes academics a priority.”
Hill isn’t the only Kelowna Aquajet to take her skills to the next level. Hill’s friend and teammate Axana Merckx will join the University of Arizona next year, while Georgia Pengilly accepted a scholarship to the University of Manitoba.
“Our Aquajet philosophy is to prepare these athletes for NCAA and CIS opportunities, and I expect several of our other swimmers will be approached with scholarship offers in the near future,” said Dimitrov.
Hill’s current season—before her first university year—is far from over. She remains committed to her personal goals of competing at the junior nationals in Calgary in July, the Canadian swim trials in Toronto in April, and perhaps one day represent Canada at the Olympics. Hill’s focus will be on the butterfly, backstroke and freestyle.
While moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico will be a bit of an anxious adventure for a 17-year-old, Hill is excited to move to a new city, make new friends, learn from new coaches and train year-round in a 50-meter outdoor pool, all the while her parents, grandparents, and community will be supporting her just a little bit to the north.
with files from Steve Cawley
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