FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The hometown swimmer will be competing for her hometown University. Hutchison's Shannon McCallum penned her National Letter of Intent to swim at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Wednesday in front of friends and family at the Hutch library. McCallum is a Region VI champion in the 200-yard freestyle event, where she clocked in at 2 minutes and 1.38 seconds, three ticks ahead of the next competitor. McCallum has grown up watching and swimming with current and former Nanook athletes, which made her decision to take her talents to UAF that much easier.
"We've swam on similar club teams and when they would go off to UAF, I would watch them," McCallum said moments after putting ink to paper. "It's always been kind of a dream to stay here and swim with them and when I went on the visit, [UAF Swim Coach] Becca was really nice and the whole team was super great. I am very excited to swim with them again."
At the Region VI championships, McCallum also qualified for the state meet in the 100-yard backstroke. At state, she placed 8th overall in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:02.52.
"I just want to thank Shannon for embracing the high school season, I know it is not easy to have a coach come in two days before the season starts," Hutch swim coach Kate Mathews said. "She trusted me throughout the process and it worked out and she deserves everything that is going on right now."
McCallum, a home-school student who competes for Hutchison athletics, has been a standout for the Fairbanks Stingray Swim Team throughout her career.
"She is one of our most influential swimmers, in the water and out," Stingray head coach Josh Gregory said at the NLI. "She has really helped our senior group especially grow in their performance. They see Shannon perform well and they believe they can do it too. It has been great having her, we are excited for her to take her next step and excited that we can stop by and watch her whenever we want."
This past year, McCallum battled health issues. Her coaches and teammates helped her sustain a positive attitude throughout the process.
"About a year ago I had really bad, uncontrollable, exercise induced asthma and it got to the point where I could barely swim," McCallum said. "It didn't matter if I couldn't swim at practice or if I could barely swim at all, they were just telling me that it would be okay and that I could do it, every single time, and that was the best."
McCallum joins head coach Becca Weiland and the up and coming UAF swim program, who next compete at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington on January 11.