SPRINGVILLE — Rachael Mulhisen graduated from Springville-Griffith Institute in 2011 and signed a national letter of intent to swim at Canisius College.
Mulhisen earned four varsity letters at S-GI, where she also spent time captaining the swim team, under the leadership of Coach Karen Reynolds.
As a freshman at Canisius, Mulhisen set personal bests in the 200-yard breaststroke, against Marist College, with a time of 2:43.16 and in the 100-yard breaststroke, during the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships, with a time of 1:12.92.
The athlete is now a sophomore at Canisius. During the past sports season, she took the fifth fastest time, on the Canisius team, in the 100-free. On Nov. 17, she set her personal best time, in the 200-free, during a meet against Siena College.
“There is definitely a different feeling about college meets, compared to high school,” Mulhisen said. “For one, the expectations are higher and you feel a greater responsibility to try your hardest, no matter what race you are in, because you want your team to win. The meets do seem a lot faster and, going from a high school team where competition was not very high for me, to college-level meets, where the majority of competitors are my speed or faster, has definitely taken time to adjust.”
As a swimmer on the varsity team, Mulhisen was a two-time team most valuable player and made it to both the Erie County Interscholastic Conference finals and to sectional finals, multiple times.
“Rachael was a dedicated swimmer who trained, year round, to be able to get to where she is today,” Reynolds said, about her former team member. “As a captain, she demonstrated a tremendous amount of leadership, in the water. She pushed her teammates, during each set, by setting the pace, in her lane.
“Overall, Rachael Mulhisen is a phenomenal individual that possesses the quality of determination,” the coach added. “She works hard, in and out of school, to be the best person she can be. She strives for excellence, in the water, and is a positive role model, for her fellow peers. Rachael was a joy to coach, because she listened to coaches’ advice and you could see her focus on trying to perfect her skills. I can only imagine what a positive influence and teammate she is for her Canisius team. They are lucky to have such a wonderful young lady.”
Mulhisen said that practices are much different, at the college level, than they were in high school. The Canisius team is separated, according to skill sets, including sprinters, mid-distance, distance and divers.
Practices are geared toward helping specific swimmers, which means that different practice routines are required.
According to Mulhisen, the athlete do a lot more swimming in college than they did in high school.
The girls’ swimming yardage gradually increases, until approximately a month before the MAAC championships. During that time, the swimmers focus on their racing and preparation skills.
“College has helped improve my swimming, because it has given me a team to grow close to; a team that is more like your family and that understands everything you go through,” Mulhisen said.
“Having that gives you the drive to want to do better and want to do everything to help the team win. That has helped improve my mentality towards each race I swim. Since each practice we have to work on our specific stroke, I have been able to improve my race strategies and my technique which, in the end, has helped improve my race times greatly.”
The team spends time in the weight room, three mornings per week, alternating with morning swims, running and stretching with a trainer.
During Christmas break, the team traveled to Florida for 10 days, where they underwent strict practices in a 50-meter pool.
“Those practices are intense, along with weight training and running to strengthen and break us down and push us to our limits, so that we can mentally and physically prepare for championships,” Mulhisen said.
The athlete was joined by her younger sister, Audrey Mulhisen, on the team. The freshman Mulhisen is a diver and has already broken the school record on the 3-meter board.
Rachael and Audrey Mulhisen are the daughters of Robert and Mary Ellen Mulhisen.