Achieving the Possible: DIII Swimmer of the Year Andrew Wilson

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

By Michael Grenon, Swimming World College Intern

Having recently completed his junior season for the Emory University Eagles, Andrew Wilson may have just achieved the possible. You read that correctly. Andrew has achieved everything that anybody else can.

In high school, Andrew was not a prodigious mer-man. Granted, we can only assume he put all of his effort into everything he did. Originally from Damascus, Maryland, he prepped at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, playing water polo and swimming.

Cracking 1:00 in the 100 breast and 1:59 in the 200 IM by his senior year, Andrew found his way onto the NCAA Division III men’s varsity program at Emory University. Perhaps it was an alignment of the stars, or he was finally put in the right environment needed to pursue his potential. Maybe it was just a regular lifting routine, or solely focusing on swimming for the first time. Whatever it was, it worked.


Photo Courtesy: UAA Sports

After winter break training trip his freshman year, Andrew started popping best times in dual meets. In February, he won both the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke events, helped his team to victories in both medley relays, and placed fifth in the 200 IM at the UAA conference championships, greatly contributing to Emory’s 15th straight conference title.

Needless to say, he shaved off time faster than an age-grouper at a summer league meet. The 2012-2013 UAA Male Rookie of the Year achieved All-America status at Division III Nationals in the 100 breast (5th) and 200 breast (7th), helping the Emory men to their 16th consecutive top-5 finish at NCAAs.

When interviewed in May, Andrew reflected:

“In freshman year, I just think I realized how much I like swimming and that I wanted to get really serious about it. I didn’t really have expectations going into my freshman year…The fall was a huge adjustment. I had never practiced as much or as seriously as I did when I got to Emory, so I think it just took a while for my body to grow accustomed to the workload of a college swimming schedule.”

The rest was an out-of-control upward spiral.

In the 2013-2014 season, Andrew placed second in both breaststroke events at NCAAs and fifth in the 200 IM. Most memorably, however, Andrew helped both of Emory’s medley relays to national titles— their first relay titles in recent memory.

Despite the continuing improvement, Andrew was “really frustrated” by his sophomore season. The hard work he put in, coupled with a growing hunger for better results, loaded the canon for the season ahead.

After training with Dynamo Swim Club through the summer of 2014, Andrew made the consolation final in the 50 meter breaststroke at the 2015 World Championship trials.

This past season at NCAAs, Andrew posted the 9th fastest 100 yard breaststroke ever swum by an American (51.72). He also won the 200 breaststroke (1:52.97) and 200 IM (1:46.23), leading to a total of five school records and three out of three new NCAA records.


Photo Courtesy: Emory Athletics

The newly-crowned NCAA male swimmer of the year owes much of his success to the great coaching he has had throughout his career, as well as his teammates always being there to push him.

Through it all, Andrew has achieved the possible. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all the podium-topping photo-ops, national records crumbling in his wake, countless congratulatory wishes or even the golden trophies.

No, according to Andrew, he received the most valuable award of them all: the friends he has made along the way. Let Andrew’s story be a lesson to all champions, or even just those who aspire to be victorious one day.

In Omaha next year, keep your eyes peeled for a hunch-backed swimmer that looks like Sid the Sloth from Ice Age, blasting Hoobastank from his giant headphones.

It doesn’t require the most scientifically advanced training methods, or the most expensive gear. All it takes is unbreakable dedication and an unconditional love for the sport of swimming. Achieving the possible is never out of reach.

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D3 Swimmer
D3 Swimmer
8 years ago

Andrew is a phenomenal athlete, and a true testament to hardwork paying off. It’s great to see a teammate take the time to write about a fellow teammate. Continued success to both athletes. Great Read!

Niles Keeran
8 years ago

Only one event, the 100 yard breastroke, and he;s a Division I swimmer at a Emory University, a DIvision I graduate . nedical school and all…that;s npt surprising for a Coach Howell program with his women.

Scott Doherty
8 years ago

Carson Doherty read this

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