Using the Force

Nov. 1, 2001

by Theresa Ripp

For Husky junior Evelyn Hingsbergen, swimming began as a way to spend time with cousins.

'I loved hanging out with my cousins,' says Hingsbergen. 'I took lessons when I was five, but didn't start swimming competitively until I was eight.'

Hingsbergen and her cousins would swim at the pool at Consumnes River College near their homes in Elk Grove, Calif. She has fond memories of traveling in the family RV to competitions throughout the Bay Area.

'It was fun getting faster with them and competing with them,' she says.

Hingsbergen has taken her competitive edge to the Husky pool, and is one of three team captains, along with junior Julie Massey and senior Kim Harada, for a 2001 squad that boasts high expectations.

Before the season started, each of the swimming team captains wrote individual letters to the team, introducing themselves and their goals for the coming year. In her letter, Hingsbergen talked about her previous experience at the United States Air Force Academy.

'I went there for about two months in 1999, just long enough to complete basic cadet training (BCT), which is similar to boot camp,' Hingsbergen says in the letter.

After BCT, Hingsbergen realized that serving in the military was not for her and that she would rather lead a normal college life. Hingsbergen contacted head coach Mickey Wender at Washington and landed a spot on the team.

Hingsbergen learned of Washington's up-and-coming swim program from a longtime friend and former California club teammate, Irene Schneider, then entering her sophomore season at Washington.

'Irene raved about Washington to me,' says Hingsbergen. 'She convinced me to come and visit when I was a junior in high school.'

Hingsbergen remembered feeling that the University of Washington 'just fit' during her previous visits, and decided that Seattle was where she needed to be.

'The Huskies have a close-knit athletic community,' says Hingsbergen. 'We hang out together. It is fun to go to practice and see the same faces everyday. The facilities are great.'

Hingsbergen thinks she has become mentally stronger as a swimmer since joining the Huskies.

'When I swim, I used to think about schoolwork, and music would play through my head,' she says. 'It has taken awhile, but now I can focus on my strokes and technique. I am more focused when I am in the pool.'

Hingsbergen's favorite swimming memory came last year, when Washington edged Oregon State in the final relay to beat the Beavers by one point, 136-135.

'I was the anchor on the 200-meter freestyle relay team,' she recalls. 'It was only a women's meet, and I remember seeing the men's team on deck cheering us on and hearing them motivate us to swim harder and faster. It was so much fun.'

Hingsbergen considers having such outstanding teammates as the best aspect of swimming, and loves that she gets to travel with her best friends.

Throughout all of her traveling, though, she's relieved to know that she's finally found a place that she can call home.

'Don't get me wrong, swimming is time consuming and tiring at times,' says Hingsbergen. 'But it builds your self-confidence. You learn that you can do things you never thought you could do.'

Team goals for the Huskies this year include making the top 25 and competing in at least one event at the NCAA championships. Hingsbergen's goals as a team captain are to, 'keep it light and happy. I don't want my teammate to get too stressed out.'

Hingsbergen's personal goals are to improve in the butterfly and relay events in her next two years as a swimmer for the Huskies. A junior, she is double-majoring in Psychology and Political Science. She hopes to go on to law school or work for some branch of the government in Washington D.C.

'If I learned anything from my short experience at the Air Force Academy, it was to stay in the present, to be someplace, to mentally be there,' says Hingsbergen.

Hingsbergen came to Washington to lead a normal college life. She does not regret leaving the Air Force Academy. She is here, at Washington, in the present, leading with her glowing smile and mental toughness.

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