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Thursday, 12 December 2013 15:18

DDHS grad’s water world: Emily McClellan stars at UW-Milwaukee

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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee senior Emily McClellan competes against Illinois-Chicago at the Klotsche Natatorium in Milwaukee. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee senior Emily McClellan competes against Illinois-Chicago at the Klotsche Natatorium in Milwaukee. UW-Milwaukee

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Emily McClellan continues to surprise herself almost every time she dives into the pool.

Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-WalworthCountySunday

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee senior swimmer has established numerous school, pool and Horizon League records -- often breaking her own standards -- as a Panther after a standout career at Delavan-Darien High School, where she won a Division 2 state crown in the 100 breaststroke as a senior, placed third in the 200 IM at the state meet with a school-record time and was named All-American in the 100 breaststroke.

Quite remarkable considering McClellan didn’t start swimming competitively until her freshman season at DDHS.

“It’s been pretty amazing and a whole new learning experience for me because I had never been around meter swimming before I got here,” McClellan said. “(2012) was only my second year of year-round training, so that’s been an eye opener. But it’s all given me a new perspective about my ability and given me that much more confidence.”

McClellan can be proud of her many accomplishments during her meteoric rise, which started during her freshman year at UW-Milwaukee, which culminated with her becoming the first school swimmer and first conference female competitor to participate in the NCAA Championships.

With the accolades accumulating and her times dropping, McClellan continues to put herself into elite company.

She competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., in 2012 and participated in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, this past summer.

“The trials were a long, challenging competition,” said McClellan, who placed sixth out of more than 100 entrants in the 100-meter breaststroke -- the top two made the London Olympics team. “It was a phenomenal experience … being in the same pool with and against so many top swimmers, and I was one of them.”

McClellan earned a bronze medal as a member of the 4x100 medley relay team at the University Games, where she also placed seventh, and one spot from the podium, in the 50 breast and finished ninth in the 100 breast.

“That was super cool and one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said McClellan, who had won the 100 breaststroke at the U.S. Open to make the team. “Being a part of that and traveling for my country. It was absolutely phenomenal hearing the chants of ‘USA, USA,’ and then the flags waving as you step onto the (starting) blocks.”

And McClellan is trying to enjoy every minute of her final year with the Panthers despite such a hectic schedule.

“It’s crazy and hard to wrap my head around that this already is my senior year,” she said. “I have set personal goals, but seeing the girls win the Horizon League title for a third time would be awesome,” said McClellan, who qualified for the NCAAs in March for a fourth time with her efforts this past weekend at the Iowa Hawkeye Invite.

Indeed, and nothing short of spectacular for somebody who is used to overcoming obstacles. She will graduate this spring with a degree in American Sign Language studies, a career path that could lead her into teaching or interpreting for the hearing impaired.

That’s because McClellan has several deaf relatives, and she was born deaf in her left ear.

But it hasn’t slowed her down, although she still has to pinch herself once in awhile.

“I didn’t see any of this coming … it’s definitely been crazy,” she said. “So I’ve been fortunate and lucky.

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