Rebecca Hammond '13 and Benjamin Ruxin '15 are the most recent student-athletes to receive accolades for stellar performances on the field and in the classroom.
In the 1,500-meter race at the NCAA Championships, Hammond finished with a time of 4:28.09, shattering the school record and landing her All-America honors. At the same time, she tackled her honors oral exams via Skype, two days before she flew to Wisconsin for the races. Hammond, a biology major and chemistry minor from Davis, Calif., earned highest honors, with the news arriving just after she crossed the finish line in her final race.
"It was a big surprise," Hammond says, "too good to be true." In addition, Hammond was named the 2012-2013 Philadelphia Inquirer All-Area Women's Track & Field Performer of the Year and a member of the USTFCCCA Division III All-Academic and 2013 Capital One Academic All-District Women's Track & Field teams.
"As a Swarthmore student-athlete, I'm used to shifting my focus between school work, training, and racing," she says. "Going into finals, I was nervous, but knew that it would be a fast race and that all I had to do was race my hardest and I would be fine."
Sure enough, Hammond finished with a three-second personal record, eight seconds faster than what she ran in the trials. Even with her Swarthmore career behind her, Hammond has much to look forward to next year. With her Fulbright scholarship, she plans to work at a lab at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Norway and take classes in world health at the University of Oslo.
"It's a big relief to have something structured and exciting to do after graduation," she says. "I can put off the big scary future for another year."
Not surprisingly, she also plans on joining a track club while at Oslo. "I can't imagine life without workouts and track meet torture."
Despite her excitement for Norway, Hammond knows she'll never find another experience that will mirror her time with the Garnet.
"I'll miss how crazy we all are," she says. "I'll miss Pete [Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach Peter Carroll] a whole lot. It's very fun to be with a group of kids who are all both intellectual and intense about physical exertion. You have to be a little crazy to enjoy running competitively."
Benjamin "Scoop" Ruxin '15, a member of the Garnet baseball team and an economics and political science major, also received a multitude of honors for his strong play on the diamond and academic excellence. Ruxin, like Hammond, was named a Capital One Academic All-American, becoming just the second member of the baseball program to receive the honor.
"It felt pretty special to receive the award, as balancing the demands of Swarthmore with athletics can be difficult, and being recognized for doing that well was definitely a good feeling," says Ruxin, who will spend the fall semester studying in Barcelona, Spain.
Along with the Academic All-America honor, Ruxin was also named to the All-Centennial Conference Second Team, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Academic All-Area Baseball Team, the Capital One Academic All‐District IV Baseball First Team, and the Jewish Sports Review's D-II, III, NAIA Baseball All-America Team. During the 2013 season, Ruxin hit .362 with 38 hits, seven doubles and 18 RBI, helping the Garnet win 22 games.
"We had several players have breakout seasons last year and I think we all built off of each others' success," he says. "Obviously, the season did not end up the way we wished it had, but we really turned some heads in the conference this year, and I think we all expect to be competing for a conference championship next season."