A double swim team spotlight

The story of a Mt. A friendship blossoming in the water

Friendship does not quite capture the bond between Miki Williston and Makayla Churchill, two stand-out varsity athletes of Mt. A’s swim team. However, their stories only crossed after eighteen years of living just over an hour apart, in Miramichi and Moncton, respectively.


Churchill was thrown into the water at three and recalls her competitive swimming career beginning in grade four. Just a year prior, Williston started swimming competitively herself. Their paths would cross for the first time in New Brunswick swim meets. They recognized the speed of each other here but never had the opportunity to meet; little did they know that they would develop an unbreakable connection in their early adult years.


Churchill and Williston mention how they attained (previous) best times in various categories in grade ten. Still, following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they felt as though they had peaked. Churchill, a Moncton native, remembers feeling doubtful “if I can keep doing this,” about swimming in university. With all of the uncertainty that 2022 brought New Brunswick, Williston—whose mother, Kozue, coached the Miramichi White Caps since her elementary school days—took a gap year from swimming in her grade twelve year: “it was hard for me to start all over again. For me to see us achieve our best times again is crazy.” Mt. A’s two biochemist swimmers, who not only shared every class in their first year of studies but were also roommates in Windsor Hall, crossed paths again at the university’s recruitment camp, where they instantly clicked. 

Since their first days at Mt. A, these two have shared countless cherished memories, including a story about when a hard-hitting snowstorm stranded the swim team in Newfoundland in February of 2023. During the Atlantic University Sport championships, held in St. John’s, the forecast predicted a storm would hit the city capital on Sunday, the final day of the trip. With many swimmers preparing for midterms on Monday, it was important to return to Sackville, NB. However, as student athletes know, plans do not always go according to schedule.


As the last team scheduled to fly out of the province, the storm hit just in time to ground the varsity swim team. Without any other option, Williston said that without any responsibilities to take care of for the time being, they could “just be Newfies.” Among exploring the province and microwaving many of their meals for an entire week, Williston and Churchill were among those who kissed the cod and found themselves immersed in the “Newfie experience,” which brought the team together.


It seems no two teammates could maintain a closer relationship than these two athletes, who have accomplished much in their mere sixteen months at university together. Churchill and Williston are Academic All Canadians, having maintained a GPA above 3.5, and are residence assistants.


Williston is also the swim team’s “Mounties For Mental Health” representative and a talented opera singer. Churchill is one of Mt. A’s Marjorie Young Bell Scholars, last year’s female swimming rookie of the year, and a teaching assistant.


The accomplishment that stands out the most is through the leadership roles embraced by each swimmer in their first and second years. When describing a fundraiser they initiated for the swim team, where they held adult swimming lessons for the greater Sackville community, the ladies recognize: “we have used our sport to help other people.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles