Swim and dive seniors say goodbye


Courtesy of Hayden Freeman – UWO’s Hayden Freeman swims down the lanes. Freeman typically swims the butterfly event.

Nolan Swenson, Sports Co-Editor

On Feb. 18, UW Oshkosh’s swimming and diving seniors, Chase Millam and Hayden Freeman, competed in their last competition as Titans.

Milliam competed in the freestyle event during his time at UWO, but his time swimming began before entering campus here. He said when he originally began, it felt more obligatory than a sport he loved.

“I started when I was 7 by jumping right into competitive swimming,” he said. “I wasn’t that good as a kid, but I went out and did my thing. It wasn’t something I liked; I just did it.”

He said that as he aged, he was able to appreciate the different components of being on a swimming team better, especially the team aspect.

“I started enjoying it in high school due to the team component of it in my program,” he said. “That made me really love it. I went to state individually my sophomore year of high school and went every single year after.”

Despite showing collegiate-level performance, Milliam said he thought he would be unable to swim in college due to a wrist injury he suffered before his freshman year.

“I thought about swimming in college but at the end of senior year I shattered my wrist and I took the first two years at UW-Milwaukee.”

In the wake of COVID-19, he said that he decided to make several adjustments in his college experience.

“When COVID-19 hit, some things changed,” he said. “I switched schools and majors and then joined the swimming team for the last two years.”

Millam said that he’s proud of both his and the team’s progress and was constantly reminded why he became a Titan.

“The team has been really successful this past season,” he said. “Individually I beat my high school times at the end of last year, and I beat even more times from my previous year. It’s one of those things where you do it and you feel that relief, and you remember why you originally joined the sport.”

Millam said that UWO’s team has been a small, but tightknit team that allowed everyone to be closer to each other.

“It’s awesome; it’s a smaller team than what I was used to in high school and compared to other college swim teams,” he said. “The size of the team makes everyone closer and look out for each other.”

Millam said that he’s leaving the team satisfied both with his own and the team’s performance, and he sees growth for the team in the future.

Chase Millam

“It’s an up-and-coming program and they’re looking for ways to improve the team,” he said. “Being a part of that rebuilding is a great experience. It’s been overwhelmingly positive this year, especially since it’s my last season. Seeing everyone come in and crush their goals has been very rewarding for me.”

Freeman also joined Oshkosh after a long break from competitive swimming but enjoyed his experience nonetheless. He began his swimming career later in youth and it soon became his favorite sport.

“I got into swimming my sophomore year of highschool,” he said. “Before that I was into cross-country and track … I joined [the swimming and diving team] for cross training, and I ended up falling in love with the sport for its own thing.”

After that experience, Freeman wanted to swim in college but, akin to Millam, he didn’t join a collegiate swimming and diving team his freshman year.

“At first I wanted to swim in college, but I started college at the Fox Valley campus,” he said. “But they didn’t have a swim team, so I ended up just swimming alone for two years just for training and fitness. When I transferred to Oshkosh, I wanted to get back into it, so I decided to join the team in order to meet people and get back that team aspect.”

Freeman said that his time on the team was worth the sacrifices that it required and that those sacrifices had benefits.

“In Oshkosh I really enjoyed my time on the team,” he said. “At the end of my last meet I beat a high school time, and I wasn’t expecting that because I was a different athlete then. It was worth every morning that I didn’t want to go, and every afternoon when I wanted to stay home.”

Freeman said he’s looking forward to seeing where the team goes, as he sees bright futures for the athletes and team.

“The sky’s the limit for the team and we’ve had a lot of recruits on campus,” he said. “It’s really cool to see that people are interested in the program. The team is super young, and there are only two seniors, so a lot of people will return. It’s a very exciting time to be a fan of the Oshkosh swim team – they could be on the verge of something special.”

Both Titans will be leaving their mark on the team, and moving on to life outside college.

Millam would like to do documentary work with his degree. He has a job lined up with a Chicago marketing company to do post-production and social media work.

Freeman will graduate after the fall semester with a communications degree and plans to stay in the area as he said that the region is flush with opportunity. This way, he will also be able to root for the Titans as a proud alumnus.

“I’ve had a really enjoyable time as a Titan athlete and I can’t wait to see the meets as a proud alum,” Freeman said.