New Hampshire Union Leader: "Hopkins Sharpens His Focus"

New Hampshire Union Leader: "Hopkins Sharpens His Focus"

This story originally appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Also view a PDF on here.

by Roger Brown

Connor Hopkins (Windham, N.H./Windham) makes headlines every time he jumps into the pool. At least that's how it seems.

Hopkins, a Windham resident who's a junior on the Saint Michael's College swimming and diving team, set three individual school records and also helped Saint Michael's set two school records in relay events at last weekend's Northeast-10 Swimming and Diving Championships in Worcester, Mass. He became the first male swimmer from Saint Michael's to win an event at the NE-10 Championships and earned a spot on the NE-10 All-Conference Team.

"I'd say based on times that (the NE-10 Championships) would be the highlight of my swimming career," Hopkins said. "The biggest thing for me is I just want to go faster. I have times I want to achieve."

Hopkins set school records in the 50-yard freestyle (20.85) and the 100 backstroke (51.37) on Friday, when he helped the 200 free-relay team (1:26.31) and the 400 medley-relay team (3:35.04) post school-record times as well.

He broke his own record in the 100 backstroke on Saturday (51.26), and then established the school record in the 200 backstroke on Sunday (1:54.79).

Hopkins spent four years on the Windham High School swimming and diving team. Although he swam the 50 free and the 100 free as a senior at Windham, Hopkins was known more for his baseball ability while he was in high school. He was an outfielder on the school's varsity baseball team during each of his four years at Windham and helped the Jaguars defeat Goffstown in the Division II state championship game as a junior.

"My mom and dad both swam in college," Hopkins said. "I played baseball my entire life and when I got to high school I wanted to try another sport. It definitely didn't come easy. It was like an experiment. I definitely struggled my first year.

"When I was leaving Windham to come here to Saint Michael's I wanted to do both (sports). I really didn't know what the possibilities were in swimming because I had been doing it for such a short time."

Hopkins was on the swimming and diving team and baseball team for each of his first two years in college, but gave up baseball after his sophomore season to concentrate on swimming. He said he considered giving up swimming after his freshman season to focus on baseball.

"Trying to do both … it was a lot of work," Hopkins said. "I'd been playing baseball for so long I felt like I knew where I fit compared to other players. With swimming, I still had no idea what the possibilities would be. To reach my potential I do believe I had to leave baseball.

"I want to swim in the (NCAA) nationals and last year I came close to making the 'B' cut for Division II in the 50 freestyle. This year the 'B' cut was 20.75 and my time was 20.85 at the NE-10 (Championships).

"I'm definitely surprised at how much success I've had. I've put a lot of hard work into swimming and I'm glad that hard work is paying off."