Like many college freshmen, Chelsea Calhoon admits to being homesick.
The Milton High graduate had never been away from home before she stepped onto the campus of Minnesota State in the summer of 2014.
But it didn’t take her long to make the adjustment.
Calhoon is wrapping up a record-setting swim career at the Division II school located in Mankato and will likely hit the pool for the last time at the NCAA Division II meet in Greensboro, North Carolina, next month. It would be the third straight year Calhoon qualified for the national meet.
Yet, as impressive as Calhoon’s credentials are in the pool, she’s made an even bigger splash in the classroom.
Calhoon has been both an NCAA Academic All-American and a CSCAA Scholar All-American. She completed her undergraduate studies in three years and got a double major in law enforcement and corrections, all while making the dean’s list every semester. She’s currently finishing up her graduate studies in sociology/human services planning and administration.
So what made her stick it out after making the five-hour drive from Milton and wanting to immediately turn around and come back home?
“I’m not a quitter,” Calhoon said. “So even though I was homesick, I told myself I have to stick it out. And swimming had been such a big part of my life for so long that I knew how badly I wanted to be successful, so going home wasn’t an option.
“I think more than anything, as a freshman, you have to be able to find your niche. I was able to do that pretty quickly.”
Calhoon has been swimming competitively since she was 9 years old.
She graduated from Milton in 2014 and was a member of back-to-back Division 2 state championship teams in 2010 and 2011. She finished in the top six three times at the WIAA state meet in the 100 backstroke and swam on five state championship relay teams in four years.
The success has carried over to Minnesota State. Calhoon owns several pool and school records and is in the top 10 all-time for the program in multiple events.
Although Calhoon competes in the rugged 400 individual medley, her favorite event is the 200 backstroke. She holds the school record in the event at 2:01.5 and hopes to break the mark and go under two minutes at this weekend’s Northern Sun Conference Meet.
“The main thing for me is that I’ve improved my starts and underwaters,” Calhoon said of reaching her goal of breaking the two-minute barrier. “What happens underwater is a lot more prevalent now than before. The push off to start the race and the start you have underwater are where you can really bring your times down.”
Calhoon has mixed emotions about her swimming career coming to an end. She has competed in a couple triathlons and could get her “swim fix” through that. She’s also entertained the idea of getting into coaching at the youth or high school levels.
“As of right now, I’m probably going to get away from competitive swimming and try something different,” Calhoon said. “There is always the Masters program where you can still swim and compete, but right now that’s not something I’m thinking about.
“It’s bittersweet for me, because I’ve been swimming competitively since I was 9. I’m sad to see it end, but I’m excited about the future.”
Calhoon plans to move back to the Milton area when she completes her graduate studies. She enjoyed her time in Mankato but realizes there’s no place like home.
John Barry is a sports writer for The Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org