March 20, 2013
BY MARK BENNETT
UW Athletic Communications
MADISON, Wis. -- There is little debate that Wisconsin sophomore Ivy Martin is one of the fastest swimmers in the country.
On Feb. 21, Martin swam to a Big Ten record time of 21.84 in the 50-yard freestyle during the preliminary round of the conference championships in Minneapolis. Martin became the first female athlete in Big Ten competition to break the 22-second barrier in the 50-freestyle, and she shattered former Wisconsin standout Beckie Thompson's 2012 school record of 21.94.
But in addition to being one of the fastest in the NCAA, the Madison native might also be one of the most humble as well.
No female swimmer in the history of Big Ten competition has ever covered 50 yards in a pool faster than Ivy Martin.
"Yeah, that sounds pretty crazy when you say it like that," Martin said, a little shy in admitting her own success. "But I don't know, it's pretty exciting."
When Martin hit the wall at the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis, she could hear the roar of her teammates and knew she had swum a great race.
"That was my goal, to get the record," Martin said. "When I finished, I felt good in the water and I knew it was fast. And then I heard my teammates cheering."
Martin finished her freshman season with a personal best 22.60 at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, placing her among the better swimmers nationally in the event.
But as this season progressed, Martin separated herself from one of the better swimmers in the nation to one of the elite. Her time of 21.84 is just .06 seconds off the top mark in the country this year set by Arizona junior Margo Geer.
"I knew I was going to have a good Big Tens after I swam a best time at the Virginia Dual Meet," Martin said. "But it's all of the hard work paying off at the end of the season."
At that Virginia Dual meet in January, Martin broke the University of Virginia Aquatic Center pool record with a time of 22.36. Just a week later, the two-time Big Ten Swimmer of the Week broke the UW Natatorium record, swimming the 50-freestyle in 22.32.
And the times have kept falling from there.
Perhaps the only teammate who has given Ivy a run in the sprint events this season is the swimmer who also probably knows her best. Ruby Martin, Ivy's older sister and a senior swimmer for the Badgers, posted a time of 22.65 at the Big Ten Championships. That time is the eighth-fastest on the team this season with Ivy holding the top seven.
Combined, the Martin sisters hold the top 22 times in the 50-freestyle for Wisconsin this year.
Ivy Martin said she loves attending school in the city she's lived her whole life in. But as of a few weeks ago, the name Ivy Martin began to spread far beyond the borders of Madison.
Martin is so fast right now, that only five Wisconsin men have swam a faster 50-freestyle this season. If Martin put herself on the men's performance list, she would post the 28th-fastest time.
So how fast does she see herself going at the NCAA Championships this weekend in Indianapolis?
"I don't really want to think about a time," Martin said. "I just want to go in and swim as fast as I can. I guess a best time is a best time, so I would be happy with anything past my top time."
Martin said she made it a goal this season to score at the NCAAs in the 50 freestyle, but she never anticipated entering that competition seeded second. Now her goals have stretched a little further.
"It's just all so new to me right now, so it's hard to say where I see myself going," Martin said of her future. "But if I'm second now, I'm not going to limit myself to anything. Obviously the goal is to win the NCAAs."
And who knows. With half of her collegiate career remaining, Martin is just .57 seconds shy of the NCAA record.