Currently a senior in civil engineering, Elizabeth Ling has been making waves in the McGill Swim Team since her freshman year. Although The Tribune had already sat down and interviewed Ling in 2021, her recent achievements compelled an encore, reflecting on her experience and motivation as a senior.
Growing up in Calgary, Ling played a wide variety of sports. Ultimately, she took up swimming. From then on, Ling continued to participate in swimming clubs and then pursued the sport more competitively. At 15, Ling shifted from her first club, the Calgary Patriots Swim Club, to the University of Calgary Swim Club, which spurred her to challenge herself and compete.
“With my first club, it was kind of chill […], I wasn’t really pushed there,” Elizabeth Ling told The Tribune. “I moved to a different club and they had higher expectations for you to try harder and practice and stuff like that.”
After nine years of swimming at the competitive club level, Ling transitioned to the McGill Swim Team as she began her university career. Despite making her debut as a freshman during the 2020-21 COVID-19 season, Ling noted the stronger emphasis on team identity at McGill.
“It wasn’t a crazy big shift, but it is quite different from club swimming where you’re swimming more for the team and not just yourself anymore,” Ling explained. “There’s a bigger community within that [McGill] team which is really nice to have.”
This year, first-year students compose around half of the Marlets’ swim team. The McGill team has been particularly successful in recent meets, winning first place at every event at the first Cup of the 2023-24 season.
“It’s nice to see how the team environment changes every year with graduating students and rookies,” Ling said. “We’ve got a really good bunch of rookies this year, some of them are really fast and they all bring their best effort and attitude to the workouts […] The team environment is really good every year, but this year, especially, everyone’s having a lot of fun.”
Attending and performing in competitions all around Quebec and Ontario while working to complete her civil engineering bachelor’s degree is a significant time commitment for Ling.
“I feel like you kind of have to make sacrifices for both. But my coach was really understanding if you need to take a day off for swimming, or you have a midterm and you need to study or something,” Ling explained. “[During meets] you have to swim three events and probably a relay, which is twice as much [as in high school club swimming]. So that’s kind of difficult, but I like it a lot better because you’re only racing for one day rather than an entire weekend..”
Ling emphasized her need for growth and her desire to continue with sports recreationally, even when her swimming career comes to a close.
“I just really want to have a good season this year and maybe get some personal best, help the team maybe get to […] [place] third at USPORTS this year,” Ling explained. “I think my time with swimming is coming to an end, this year or next year. I’d be down to try badminton or something. ”
Ling has been named McGill athlete of the week twice and Réseau de Sport Etudiants au Québec (RSEQ) athlete of the week once since the beginning of the 2023-24 season. Last year, Ling pushed new boundaries by establishing McGill’s new 50-m back record.
However, with great performance comes great pressure—something Ling has struggled with throughout her swimming career.
“It helps, knowing that I’m just sort of in it for the fun of it,” Ling reflected. “I really like racing, knowing that I [achieved] that time before, it helps. I did it before, so I can do it again. It just helps with practice and knowing that I’ve been trying my best during practice and putting in the work. It doesn’t really matter what I do, if I’m happy with my time and perform well then it’s alright. […] [Now that] I’m older, it’s sort of, ‘why be upset about it and why stress about it, because it won’t help me in any way.’ ”
Ling is making the most out of her last season as a varsity athlete, enjoying the community brought by the team while still performing at impressive levels, constantly surpassing herself.