Long list of honors: Franklin College graduate up for Woman of Year

When she was swimming at Cascade High School, Regina Solik used to tell anyone who would listen that she was going to end up on the school record board.

Though some doubted her, Solik wound up graduating with six school records.

She didn’t expect similar success at the collegiate level — “I’m not sure if I’ll do good, but I’ll at least enjoy it,” she recalls saying to her father — but it came nonetheless.

Solik graduated with honors last month from Franklin College, and she also departed as the most decorated female swimmer in school history, holding six school records and becoming the first Grizzly woman to qualify for the NCAA Division III championships.

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Earlier this month, she was honored one more time when she was announced as one of the nominees for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

Solik didn’t even know such a thing existed.

“I was actually on my way home from work and my coach (Andy Hendricks) texted me,” she said. “He’s like, ‘Hey, by the way, you’ve been nominated.’ I was like, ‘What?’ ”

A total of 544 student-athletes, including 198 from Division III schools, were nominated from across the country. That list will be pared down to 30 semifinalists (10 each from Divisions I, II and III) and then down to nine finalists before a winner is chosen by the NCAA’s Committee on Women’s Athletics.

Nominees are chosen based on a student-athlete’s body of work both on and off the playing field, and Solik certainly had all of the bases covered. In addition to qualifying for nationals in the pool, she compiled better than a 3.5 grade-point average and was quite active in the community, volunteering with such organizations as Esperanza, Shepherd Community Center and the Special Olympics.

“There lacked a social life for sure,” Solik said of her busy schedule.

A double major in applied mathematics and Spanish, Solik currently works for Greenwood Machine Inc. in Franklin. She’s not sure where the future will take her, but for now she’s happy to be close to her hometown and to many of her former teammates.

Solik is especially looking forward to competing one more time this fall at Franklin College’s Blue-Gold meet, which pits the current Grizzlies against the alumni. She does, after all, have a reputation to uphold after a record-setting 2016-17 season that few would have expected from her years ago.

“I felt strong,” Solik said of her senior campaign. “I felt good in the water, really smooth. I was making some really fast times — times that I hadn’t seen in the previous years when I’d been tapered.”

Between her swimming success, all of the academic accolades and adjusting to the real world, it’s been a crazy few months for Solik. Being nominated for the NCAA’s highest honor is gravy.

“I was never expecting it,” Solik says of everything that’s come her way. “It was just hard work and pushing myself over the years.”

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.