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Mills College Swim Team Wraps Up Season with High GPAs and Strong Character

Oakland, CA–March 13, 2009. The Mills College swimming team has wrapped up its season by making the top 10 list among NCAA Division III institutions with the highest grade point averages for fall 2008. It also won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character award for exemplary character and sportsmanship.

Despite the rigorous training schedule of six days a week from September to February, the 19-member team made 10th place nationally with a GPA of 3.42, as reported by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. The swim team also became the second Mills College athletic team this year to win the Champions of Character award. Following last fall's win by the cross country team, the Mills College swim team also exemplified the best "core character values of respect, integrity, leadership, and sportsmanship." Sophomore Rachel Griffith from Modesto, CA, also received the individual Champion of Character award.

"We wanted to be role models and really represent the true character of athletes for the whole campus community," said Mills senior Robin Cumming. "Because many people don't necessarily see us in competitions, it's important for our team to act with integrity, respect, and responsibility because that's how people come to know us—through our actions."

Throughout the year, public service remained a strong focus for the team. This year the team raised nearly $6,000 for Swim-A-Mile, an annual fundraiser for the Women's Cancer Resource Center, a local nonprofit for women with cancer in the Bay Area.

On Jan. 19, the National Day of Service honoring Martin Luther King Jr., the team joined 100 other community members at Sheperd Canyon, a local park, to help restore the area which had become an unofficial dumping ground for construction waste. Team members removed non-native invasive plants and replaced them with native plants; did trail maintenance and build new trails; removed large concrete debris, moved signs, and laid wood chips to make the area more user friendly.

At this year's NAIA National Championship from March 4 to 7, seven swimmers went to St. Peters, Missouri, to compete. In the 800-yard free relay, Mills College swimmers Rachel Griffith, Kelsey Mercado, Amelia True, and Cathy Knight came home by breaking the school record by 18 seconds, finishing in 9:02.38.

Mills College swim coach Neil Virtue said the swim team's wide range of abilities allow swimmers to learn from each other's unique perspective and show respect to everyone.

"At the end of a practice, meet, or any event in life, the one thing that a person can hold on to is to know you did the best you could do. There isn't much else than that," he said. "There are always going to be opportunities to compare oneself to others, but what really counts is for the team to see and feel that they performed to the best of their ability that day."

Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity to approximately 950 undergraduate women and 500 graduate women and men. Since 2000, applications to Mills College have more than doubled. The College is one of the top colleges in the West by U.S. News & World Report, one of the Best 368 Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks 75th among America's best colleges by Forbes.com. Visit us at www.mills.edu.


Quynh Tran
Media Relations Manager

Last Updated: 2/27/17