By Melissa Maykut
OXFORD, Ohio – Senior swimmer Ellen Barhorst was awarded the Robin Chico Award at the recent Women's Swimming & Diving Banquet, an honor given to a senior student-athlete who has shown strength and motivation during times of challenge and adversity.
Facing devastating personal challenges due to family tragedy, the West Chester, Ohio native has displayed incredible courage and strength. Barhorst remained resilient throughout the 2012-13 season, maintaining a positive attitude and serving as a role model for the eventual Mid-American Conference champions.
Barhorst says she was surprised, but also very proud to have been named Miami University’s second recipient of the Chico Award.
“Thinking back on it, it just reminds me how I was able to get through everything with the support of my team and my coaches,” Barhorst said. “It meant everything to me that I could trust them and know that they would support me during those difficult times.”
The award was established in 2010 by Miami University alumni to recognize varsity swimmer Robin Chico (1975-78) who overcame hardships during the early stages of Title IX, which became law in 1972. The award's first and only other recipient, Jenna Long, was honored in May 2010.
Originally a walk-on, Barhorst has earned four varsity letters while maintaining a 3.80 cumulative grade point average. She will earn her bachelor's degree in childhood education.
“The reason we decided to give it to Ellen is because she has really been an incredible part of our program in terms of what she’s been able to do and give to the program,” said head coach Dave Jennings.
Barhorst will graduate December 2013 after completing her student teaching in Cincinnati. She says her goal is to be a math and science teacher for fifth and sixth graders, while also staying involved with swimming as a coach.
More about the Robin Chico Award
The Robin Chico Award is presented to a graduating senior from the Miami University women’s swimming and diving team for representing the university and swimming program well during times of compelling adversity.
Chico joined the Miami University women’s swimming and diving team in 1975 ranked in the top 25 best butterfly swimmers in the world. As a freshman, she qualified for the National Collegiate Championship with five of her teammates, but did not compete due to the University’s refusal to send them. Chico had been seeded second in the nation in the 100 butterfly event, and her seed time was the third fastest time at that year’s nationals.
Despite the difficulties she faced from the university, she continued to represent the swimming and diving program by setting records in the 100 and 200 fly, the 200 and 400-yard individual medleys, and the 200, 1000, and 1650 freestyle races. Throughout her four years at Miami, she went undefeated in every individual event she competed in during regular-season dual meets, and was the Mid-American Conference (MAC) champion in each individual contest she raced. Chico's outstanding individual performance led her team to a 23-3 dual meet record throughout her four years at Miami.
As a senior, Chico was awarded the MAC’s first Swimmer of the Meet Award, as well as the conference’s Outstanding Senior Award. She was inducted into Miami Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.