By KATELYN MASSARELLI
Achieving UT All-American Status is noted as being one of the highest honors for any athlete at UT. Throughout UT’s athletic history, 396 athletes have been named All-Americans. Out of those, UT’s swimming program has snagged the most with a total of 225. Senior swimmer Martin Hammer is the first UT All-American of 2017 at the NCAA Championships.
Hammer has been named UT-All American for four consecutive years since 2014. This year he received the honor for the 100 Freestyle, clocking in at 44.31 seconds and coming in eighth overall. In total, Hammer says he’s competed in 11 different individual and relay events that qualify for UT All-American status.
To qualify as an All-American a swimmer needs to make the top 8 in the finals at the National Championship meet, according to men’s head coach Jimi Kiner. He said Hammer was the 138th male swimmer to reach the status.
“The talent level in [Division II] is outstanding and to be one of the top 8 swimmers in his event speaks volumes.”
Hammer said the NCAA Championships was a fun experience that contributed to new friendships and a way to acquaint new UT swimmers with the NCAA competition setting and what they can expect for future seasons. Speaking of the final collegiate meet he would be swimming in, Hammer said it was a great way to finish out his long college career.
“Naturally I was very excited to become an All-American again,” Hammer said. “I made it all four years, which I think describes a very successful college career, and it really has been for me.”
Even after his achievement at nationals, Hammer stepped out the pool feeling disappointed.
“I felt in great shape, but the details were not at all on point, which is the most important thing in the sprint events,” Hammer said. “I really cannot explain why that happened, but it did. I learned from it and will take that experience with me.”
Hammer hoped for gold in the 50 Freestyle. He came close to making the top eight in the preliminaries, which would have secured a race in the finals, but he was beat out by Paul Pijulet, a junior from Queens University (NC) by .02 seconds. Hammer said that it was unfortunate but was able to redeem himself with a win in the B Final, meaning he placed ninth overall in the preliminary rounds and an acceptable time.
Hammer said the details weren’t there to perform at the level he was hoping for, but details mattered less in the 100 Freestyle, and he was able to go fast enough to secure All-American status.
Fellow swimmer Tommy Reminger, a junior distance swimmer, says he’s extremely happy and proud of his teammate for achieving his fourth UT All-American honor.
“He worked incredibly hard this year as our team’s captain and it proved to be very beneficial for himself as well as all of us,” Reminger said. “With this being his fourth year swimming and his fourth time receiving this honor, I think it proves that Martin Hammer is an incredible athlete with a lot of dedication for the sport and the team.”
Reminger says that Hammer’s presence has helped shape him into the swimmer he is today. Hammer set Reminger in the right direction and inspired him to raise the bar of expectations.
“The fact that Martin has been able to achieve this award motivates me for next year in following in his footsteps and raising the same honor as him,” Reminger said. “With his performance as well as the others’ performances, I am truly excited for the years to come for the UT swim team.”
The UT swim season officially came to an end at the NCAA Championships on March 11 bringing an end collegiate swim careers for all senior swimmers including Hammer.
“It was a good way to end his collegiate swimming career and now he will continue his career on the International level,” Kiner said.