By Sam Wilson
After one of the most accomplished swim careers in school history, including three straight trips to the state championships, it’s time for Springville senior Elle Holland to move on to another path in the sport.
Holland made her post-high school plans official on Thursday, May 16, signing paperwork to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she plans to join the Tigers’ women’s swimming and diving team.
“I was a looking for a team that was just like a team I had before, one that was very family-oriented but filled with people that are ready to work hard and want to improve,” she said of her decision after a signing ceremony in the school library. “So at RIT, I found a good balance of both academically what I wanted to as well as that family atmosphere that I was looking for in a swim team.”
And in meeting with the team and coaches, Holland said she felt interested in more than just her ability as a swimmer.
“I feel like the team was very into learning about me, not just knowing what I’m going to bring to the team as a swimmer, but what my hobbies were, what I like to do, what makes me who I am, not just me swimming,” she said. “And the coaches were also super-willing to work with me and help me get where I needed to be, solidify where I wanted to go to school and provide any resources that I needed during that tough decision time. So I really just fell in love with everything about that team.”
Holland’s prep career included the three state final appearances, six individual event school records, three school record relays and at least three pool records in the Griffins’ home pool. She said her favorite memories include several small moments, and one big, unforgettable one.
“I think my favorite memories are just the little moments I have with my teammates,” she said. “My favorite memory is when I qualified for states the first time and everyone ran over to me and it was just super-awesome. I wish I could go back and picture it again because it was just so wonderful. That was probably my favorite memory, but just being with my friends and my teammates every day and working hard and trying to get the best we can be.”
At RIT, Holland plans to study biotechnology and molecular bioscience.
“Which is a mouthful,” she said. “But eventually I want to do work in genetics.”
She also anticipates focusing on her top events, the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle and backstroke at the more specialized college level.
“We’re obviously very proud of her, not just for her swimming accomplishments but certainly academic accomplishments that got her into RIT,” said Heather Holland, Elle’s mother. “Her work ethic got her where she is academically and athletically.”
Holland swam six years on the varsity starting in seventh grade, but her coaches saw potential even before that.
“In sixth grade when she was our manager, we could tell,” SGI head coach Karen Reynolds said. “She was already rising above then. She had started her career when she was seven years old and she was swimming real fast at that age and so it just wasn’t slowing down.”
Administrators including athletic director Joseph DeMartino and principal James Bialasik spoke before the signing, as did Holland’s high school swim coaches, Reynolds and assistant Christy Komenda.
“It’s a proud day for the swimming community here in Springville, both from boys and girls to the youth program,” Reynolds added. “It’s just a legacy that she’s leaving behind and people are going to remember Elle Holland and see her name, and see her banner and she is what swimming is all about. She is a great role model for kids coming up and so this is just a culmination event for her to put everything that she’s worked for together.”
Komenda credited the senior’s talent and work ethic for getting her this far.
“It was a natural talent for her and ability, and it’s nice because we have a lot of people that have natural talent and ability, but they lose the drive and the ambition,” Komenda said. “She didn’t lose that and just hungered for more to up her game or just listen for different tidbits for ‘How do I improve? What’s going to knock another tenth of a second off?’ That’s where that drive is.”