Illustration by staff illustrator Sakura Siegel.

Alina Geck is a 22-year-old college student at Saint Peter’s University.

She is a swimmer that originally showed interest in the sport at the age of four. She and her twin sister attended a swim course and fell in love with swimming. They’ve been swimming competitively ever since, that is, until COVID-19 disrupted their routine.

Swimming is one of the sports that COVID-19 has drastically affected. Geck has not competed in a swim meet for a year. She hasn’t jumped into a pool for eight of the past 12 months.

Originally from Germany, Geck finished in third place at the German National Championships in the 4×100 medley relay and was a five-time All-American at the NAIA National Championships.

At Saint Peter’s she had three top finishes in the team’s dual meet against Manhattan, placing second in the 200 yard IM and third in the 100 yard butterfly and 100 yard IM.

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But Geck said women have faced challenges in more than just sports.

“I think it is important to highlight the contributions of women in history, but also the women of today,” Geck said. “Women fight battles across the world whether it is in sports, in the workplace, or at their own homes. Women’s History Month celebrates the power and strength that women have.”

Despite not being a tennis player, Serena Williams is the female athlete that Geck idolizes. To Geck, Williams “revolutionized” women’s tennis and represents power and resilience.

Other great female athletes include Wilma Rudolph, Mia Hamm, Lindsey Vonn, Naomi Osaka, Danica Patrick and Sue Bird.

Tierney Hartnett, 21, is from Rockaway, New Jersey and also goes to Saint Peter’s University.

Also on the swim team, Hartnett originally started competiting at the age of ten. She started swimming as a hobby, picking up the sport one summer because she lived by a lake and needed a sport to do.

Despite her team competing in swim meets, Hartnett made the difficult decision of not competing due to being a high risk for COVID-19.

She is currently a senior, but will return to Saint Peter’s next year for her master’s, planning on using her last year of eligibility then.

Hartnett finished seventh in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 37.56 against Manhattan University and placed eighth in the 100-yard backstroke against Siena and St. Francis Brooklyn.

Her motivation? Knowing there’s other women out there doing changes.

“Confidence. Knowing and focusing on women who have been out there making changes that need and still need to be made gave me the confidence to focus and push to achieve what I want,” Hartnett said. “Also without women, none of us would be here so I think women deserve the spotlight.”

Hartnett hates that women’s sports are looked at as lesser than men’s.

40% of athletes in the U.S are women, but only 3.2% of media coverage is devoted to women.

“I’m pretty sure there are plenty of guys that I can outperform at their sport,” she said.

Geck echoed that sentiment.

“I’ve never felt weaker than male athletes,” she stated.

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