The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

The positive leader: Swimmer Sydney Hall

4 min read

Sydney Hall smiling after a race. | Emily Warren/The Weekly Ringer

By: Madison McCallum

Staff Writer

Standing behind the block, senior biology major Sydney Hall cheers and chants for her teammates as they make their way down to their lanes. To the outside eye, Hall’s excitement for swimming might seem to be a lifelong love; however, her passion for swimming was one that took time to develop and was heavily impacted by her passion for leadership through positivity. 

Hall began swimming when she was five years old at the local YMCA club team in her hometown of Chesapeake, Va. Viewing it as a mere social activity at the time, Hall began to wonder what lay ahead for her swim career. Beginning to focus more on herself in high school, Hall made the Junior National Swim Team and served as captain of her swim team at Hickory High school. She also earned a state ring after winning a state title with her 4×100 freestyle relay team. Per her coach’s advice, Hall began to look at smaller universities that had Division III swim programs. She decided to reach out via email to UMW’s head swim coach at the time, anxious about what the response would be. 

“She [UMW’s then-head coach Abby Brethauer] told me that if I dropped some more time, I would have a spot on the team,” said Hall. “We had our end of the season meet down in Clearwater Florida and I just remember swimming my heart out.”

Hall believes her biggest accomplishment, prior to coming to college, was her recruitment to UMW. Her hard work had finally paid off, and Hall was overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to further her swimming career at the university.

Joining the team in 2018, Hall immediately made an impact. As a freshman, she was named First Team All-Coastal Athletic Conference (CAC) in the 200 medley relay, First Team All-CAC in the 200 freestyle relay, Second Team All-CAC in the 50 freestyle and Second Team All-CAC in the 400 freestyle relay. In her sophomore year, Hall added First Team All-CAC in the 800 freestyle relay, Second Team All-CAC in the 100 freestyle and First Team All-CAC in the 400 freestyle relay to her list of accomplishments. In 2 Hall went from Second Team All-CAC in the 400 freestyle relay to First Team, crediting this to her urge to step up on the team and take a leadership role. 

Now in her senior year, Hall holds personal bests of 24.57 for the 50 freestyle, 53.76 in the 100 freestyle and 1:58.32 in the 200 freestyle. 

In 2019 at the CACs, hosted by St. Mary’s College, Hall’s 200 free relay team was seeded at second behind the seemingly unbeatable York College. Diving in shortly after her York competitors, Hall was able to beat them to the wall, out touching the competition by a mere 0.1 seconds and winning the relay for her team. Beating her fastest times, Hall shared that this meet is one she will always remember. 

After graduation, Hall plans to attend nursing school while coaching the Old Dominion Aquatic Club team back in her hometown. Although she will miss countless aspects of swimming here, Hall has a positive outlook on what is to come for her. 

“It will be bittersweet, but I am ready to close this chapter of my life and move on to the next one!” she said. 

Aside from her athletic recognition, Hall will be remembered for her leadership both in and out of the water. After having supportive role models her freshman year, Hall was determined to follow in the footsteps of the seniors before her. 

“My freshman year we had amazing seniors who led our team,” she said. “Ever since freshman year, I knew all I wanted to be was a great leader like them and to make everyone on the team love UMW just as much as I do.”

Not only did Hall make it a goal of hers to encourage her teammates to grow as swimmers, but she also aimed to make their time at the university as memorable as hers. 

“Her [Hall’s] biggest strength as a swimmer is her love of racing and the extra intensity she brings to representing her team on relays,” said current head coach Justin Anderson.

Anderson shared that Hall has a special knack for quickly developing relationships with her teammates on both the men’s and women’s teams. 

“She’s always helping me make sure I have good form, and she’s always encouraging me to push myself,” said freshman psychology major Ashley Dyer. “She’s positive and her hardworking attitude makes me want to work hard as well.”