Ian Robertson

Staff Writer

In any sport defined objectively by concrete distances and race times, unwavering consistency and commitment are staples of long-term success. In high-level Division I competitive swimming, it is one’s work ethic, not just his or her natural ability, that ultimately propels an athlete to the next level. The success of Elise Lankiewiecz ’17 clearly exemplifies such a notion.

Lankiewiecz’s swimming career unofficially began at the age of six, when she started participating in a summer league at a neighborhood pool in her hometown of Wilmington, DE. Inspired by her older brother’s success as he qualified for national-caliber meets and continued swimming competitively in college, by middle school Lankiewicz had committed to serious, year-round training. She admitted that by the time she began looking at colleges herself, “swimming had become such a huge part of my life” that she only considered colleges which would give her the opportunity to continue swimming competitively.

Since beginning her swimming career at Davidson, Lankiewiecz has flourished. While the sheer increase in training volume and intensity tends to account for some of a swimmer’s improvement from high school to college, Lankiewiecz’s remarkable achievements are a testament to something far more significant. Her stunning flurry of accomplishments include being named A-10 Most Outstanding Performer at last year’s Conference Championships. As a Davidson College record-holder in six individual events and a member of four team relay records, Lankiewicz helped re-write the record books in her first two years as a Wildcat. Her specialty may be the freestyle, but her versatility is evident in that she demonstrates an equally potent mix of either speed and endurance whenever necessary, holding records in both the 200 (1:47.46) and 1650 freestyle (16:34.99). That speaks not only to her natural talent and potential, but also her willingness to constantly push far beyond her comfort zone and challenge her physical and mental boundaries.   

With all this success, it’s hard to believe that Lankiewiecz is only a junior. With two more A-10 Conference Championships remaining, and national qualifying times to attain, she remains far from complacent. Individually, Lankiewcz is hoping to defend her six titles from last year’s championships in three individual events and three relays, a goal which would also help the ‘Cats move into the top three in the A-10. The team having finished fourth last year, Lankiewiecz believes that with “some very talented freshmen as well as some upperclassmen that have really stepped up this season,” the team is in a good place to move up. The men’s team, after finishing sixth at least year’s conference meet, also has an influx of young talent that could help them move up into the top five as a team at this year’s A-10 Championships, scheduled to start February 27th.

Yet Lankiewicz has her sights set even higher than the conference meet. She hopes with continued improvement that her times will be low enough to qualify her for national-caliber events, specifically the B standard of  the NCAA D-1 National Swimming & Diving Championships.

With lofty goals and accomplishments not far out of reach, Lankiewicz remains modest and humble about her athletic experience thus far at Davidson.

“In terms of the success I’ve had so far at Davidson, it has honestly been a bit of a surprise,” Lankiewicz noted. “In a sport like swimming when you’ve been at it as long as I have, it’s very easy to get stuck in a plateau.”

She attributes  much of her success to the guidance of her coaching staff and support of her teammates, acknowledging that her continual improvement and success “is a huge testament to the quality of our coaches as well as our team environment.” Ultimately, we can only hope that the positive atmosphere and coaching evident in Davidson’s Swimming program continues to develop swimmers in such a way that allows athletes like Lankiewicz to thrive and maximize their athletic potential.