All in the family
Beloit’s swim team is enjoying an “All in the Family” moment — with three sets of siblings competing for the Buccaneers.
Teammates Camden’23 and Maclaryn’25 Leonard, Max’23 and Ben’25 Saladar, and Bea and Lulu Champeny-Johns’24 also all grew up swimming in the pools of the Stateline area.
Camden and Maclaryn attended schools over the Illinois border in South Beloit, but participated in a club team that practiced in the Beloit College’s Sports Center pool and, more recently, the Powerhouse’s natatorium. The Champeny-Johnses and Saladars swam together (along with fellow Beloit swimmer Nathan Sill’22) at Beloit Memorial High School before they joined the swim team at the college.
The similarities in their paths don’t stop there. For Camden Leonard, attending Beloit was a natural choice — and not just because his mom, Kallie, works in the library.
“I did consider another place, just to go somewhere else, but it didn’t have a swim team, and that’s ultimately something that I decided was important to me,” he says.
After logging around 10 years each on the club team and as lifeguards, Camden and his younger sister Maclaryn find that Beloit College (and its pools) has always felt like home.
With Ben and Max’s dad, Daryl, working in the Student Engagement and Leadership office, they shared a similar desire to swim at Beloit.
Bea and Lulu’s paths to Beloit were a little less straightforward. The twins both transferred to Beloit after a few weeks at a college that did not accommodate their hearing loss. Faculty and staff at Beloit, on the other hand, addressed their needs immediately.
After three weeks at the first school, Lulu says she thought she’d have to wait for the next semester or take a gap year. “But my mom emailed Angi [Oleson, director of Learning Enrichment and Disability Services], who said, ‘Your daughters can enroll within the next week.’ They were super supportive of my accommodation — I had a note-taker right there, I had an interpreter, I had contact with my professor. They were very understanding.”
Swimming and diving coach Kevin Schober also surprised the twins by getting a starting block with lights on it to help the swimmers start on time.
“Communication is key for all of us,” says Bea, who also commended her teammates for creating a positive atmosphere. “Coach is very understanding, and he pushes us and motivates us to keep going.”
Something all these swimmers agree on is how rewarding — although difficult — it’s been to get back in the pool as a team. First-years Ben and Maclaryn had more swimming experiences as high school seniors, but the older students endured a 2020-21 season without meets and largely practiced without their teammates. Now, they’re getting in shape for the first time since fall 2019, after previous years without much of a break from the sport.
But some things remain constant despite the pandemic: The team is tight-knit and finds commonality in shared experiences, spending workouts, dinners, and hard-fought meets together. Ben explains, “Being a student-athlete means you have to find a balance between sports, sleep, and school while at the same time getting to represent our college in our sport. It’s a tricky balance to find, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”