Former Pitman High swimmer Hailee Baldwin is a unique student-athlete at Fresno State, where she was recently accepted into the master's program for Speech Pathology.
Baldwin has become a role model and an ambassador for the sport of swimming and best exemplifies what a student-athlete should be.
“It takes lots of time, dedication, and determination to make it to the collegiate level,” she said. “You have to be willing to make changes, go outside your comfort zone, and focus on the little details. It takes an ‘I can’ attitude rather than an ‘I can’t’ attitude.”
Baldwin praises her family for instilling that drive at a young age, especially her older brother.
“I would say I have always been one to have a good work ethic and competitive nature, which has been instilled in me from my parents,” said Baldwin. “I have an older brother who was also dedicated to everything he did so it was just natural to us that whatever we did, we did it to the best of our ability.”
Baldwin tackled every obstacle in her way to make sure she reached her goal of swimming at the college level. Anything and everything it took, she did. She also knew that letting future swimmers of the area know of the challenges faced if they too wish to compete at the collegiate level was significant.
“The D1 level is the highest level of collegiate swimming and it requires the most time dedicated to the sport,” said Baldwin. “If you have the drive, determination, and work ethic, you will be able to find a place for you. You have to sacrifice some ‘normal’ life to the sport in order to achieve your goals.”
Baldwin also expresses the challenges of even getting to the collegiate level.
“Another piece of advice for a future swimmer is to not get discouraged. If you love swimming, but aren’t offered a scholarship, find a school and walk on or start off swimming at the junior college level,” she added. “You don't have to be a future Olympian to swim in college. You can’t be afraid to start contacting coaches and researching schools early in your high school years.”
The collegiate season runs from September through February while the team practices a maximum of 20 hours a week that includes early morning practice a few times a week, weight training and afternoon practices.
“We also have practice every Saturday unless we have a meet which is in place of practice. Sunday is our only day off," said Baldwin. “This means that during Thanksgiving and Christmas we are required to keep training during our breaks and sacrifice part of the school break to come back and train over Christmas."
On top of her dedication in the pool, her studies have also been a major priority, as she has accumulated a grade-point average of 3.97. The team average is 3.556. The highest on campus for any sports team with the exception of women's tennis.
"You have to be ready to sacrifice most of your free time to the sport. If you are not in the classroom or at practice, chances are you are eating, sleeping, or doing homework to stay on top of your classes and avoid having to stay up late at night finishing," she added.
Baldwin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies - Speech-Language Pathology in three and a half years.
“It has definitely been challenging juggling swimming and graduate school, but it has worked out,” Baldwin added.
Baldwin was a four-year varsity swimmer at Pitman and holds the records for the 100 breaststroke, 200 IM and as a member of the 200 medley relay team. During her freshman year, Baldwin was named to the 2014 Mountain West Spring All-Academic team. As a sophomore from 2014-15, Baldwin was also named as a Mountain West Scholar Athlete.