By Nate Tenopir, Editor-in-Chief
When Madeline Hutt began her career in competitive swimming, she sabotaged her mother’s plans for the future. Hutt’s mom had entered her in a butterfly event, but Hutt knew she was destined for the breaststroke.
“When I was eight or nine my mom signed me up for a different stroke, the butterfly, and I just hated it,” Hutt said. “I just started doing breaststroke instead and got disqualified but I didn’t care because it was the only stroke I liked doing. Even as a little kid that was my forte.”
Years later her mother, and the UNO Swimming and Diving Team, are more than happy that Hutt was a little ahead of her time. A week ago the junior from Scottsbluff, Neb. was awarded The Summit League’s Women’s Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week.
Hutt was coming off of wins in the 100 breast and 200 breast against Northern Colorado. She also was a member of the 200 medley relay team that placed second.
Hutt’s has won the 100 breast and 200 breast five times this season, twice at the same meet.
“I knew it would be a big year just because last year I kept dropping, especially in the 200, I kept dropping time,” Hutt said. “I was definitely excited for this year and I knew I started it off pretty good with my times.”
Hutt’s year began with a win in the 200-meter breaststroke against Nebraska on Oct. 19, and she hasn’t looked back since. In addition to winning the 100 breast and 200 breast multiple times, Hutt set the school record for those events at the Mutual of Omaha Invite in early December.
Her time in the 100-meter breaststroke broke the mark set by Kylie Rathbone a year ago by 0.09 seconds. Hutt’s record in the 200 bested her own school record from last year by over two seconds.
Although she had several goals coming into the year the one that’s made the biggest difference is her goal to improve her turns. Last season at the New South Intercollegiate Swim Conference Championships, Hutt watched some video of her race and realized she wasn’t getting as much out of her turn as the other women in the pool.
Records and wins are nice, but Hutt felt those were possible only with a focus on improving in that area.
“I was popping out of the water a lot sooner than the other girls,” Hutt said. “I could outswim them, but off the wall not quite. I would say I’m a little bit better. I’ll always have to work on it for some reason, it’s just one of my weaknesses.”
Although Hutt feels like she has a long way to go in that aspect of her skills, she says she can tell it’s getting better. When she’s raced against the faster schools Hutt says she’s definitely keeping up with everyone in the pool.
The only time this season she’s lost the 200-meter breaststroke was at the Kansas Classic against some of the better Division I schools. At that meet Hutt came in fourth behind two swimmers from Kansas and another from Notre Dame.
She has become so good at swimming the breaststroke that it’s almost guaranteed points each weekend the Mavs compete. Hutt said it’s not hard to tell it’s her specialty.
“In the 400 IM where it’s 100 of each stroke I will be absolutely dead last because the order of the strokes are butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle,” Hutt said. “So for the first 200 I’m dead last, but once I hit breaststroke I can shoot up to first. It’s that big of a difference.”
As a student Hutt studies art and spends much of her time away from the pool painting. She prefers oil painting and trying to capture faces and emotions.
If Hutt were to paint her perfect moment in the pool it would include besting her own record in the 200-meter breaststroke by five seconds.
“I have my ultimate, completely crazy goals in the 200 breaststroke,” Hutt said. “I’d be happy with anything under 2:17, taking time off is taking time off. But my ultimate goal would be a 2:12, 2:11. I don’t know if that’s even possible but we’ll see. You never know.”