Two brothers make waves

    The Millers finished with a handful of records this season

    More stories from Jessie Meyen


    Photo by Nicole Bellford

    Collin Miller (middle) and Dayton Miller (far right) received All-American honors at the Championships.

    After the first day of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships in February, two brothers quickly became the talk of the meet, representing the UW-Eau Claire swimming and diving team.

    Dayton and Collin Miller have been swimming together since they were 6 and 8 years old. Dayton is now a senior swimmer at Eau Claire and Collin is a second-year swimmer. Their final year of competing together has come to an end, but not without a few records under their belt.

    To commence the WIAC tournament, Collin won the 200-yard Individual Medley (IM) coming in at 1:50:65, while his brother Dayton came in third at 1:54:63. And this was only the beginning for the pair.

    The second day was filled with record-breaking victories.

    A 32-year-old Eau Claire record met its match in the 800-yard free relay this year, with Caleb Odmark, a junior swimmer, Logan Coert, a senior swimmer, and two second-year swimmers, Collin and Nicholas Meints, clocked in at 6:50.82 to take second place.

    Odmark said the Miller brothers’ work ethic is an inspiration for the team.

    “I’ve noticed that their motivation to improve isn’t merely a response to the rivals around them,” Odmark said. “For them, hard work is also about taking the gift they’ve been given and fully developing their natural talents with every opportunity.”

    Collin also took first place and broke the record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 55:05, while Dayton took first place and set a new school record in the 400-yard IM with a time of 4:03.62.

    When Dayton first came to Eau Claire in 2014, he met with the head coach, who at the time was Art Brandt, and said things “just clicked.” Another factor that swayed his choice to attend Eau Claire, Dayton said, was the fact that both of his parents attended the university. When his younger brother decided to join him, Dayton said he couldn’t have been more thrilled.

    “We have swam together since I can remember so I don’t know what I would have done if he had chosen to go to another school,” Dayton said.  

    As for Collin, he said he chose Eau Claire because of the closeness of the team.

    “One of the biggest reasons other than academics was the team and how the teammates were all just one big family,” Collin said. “That is also my favorite part about swimming. Your teammates become your best friends and your family.”

    Head Coach Annie Ryder said she has loved coaching the brothers and Dayton will be missed next year.

    “It has been just an absolute pleasure,” Ryder said. “I don’t think I could’ve asked for better student athletes, better people, to be a part of the program. It was a privilege to coach Dayton and it’s a privilege to be able to continue to coach Collin.”

    On the final day of the conference championships, both Millers earned an NCAA “B” cut. Dayton earned his cut with a first place time of 2:03.15 in the 200-yard breaststroke and Collin did so with a time of 45.10, finishing third in the 100-yard free.

    Collin also placed first in the 400-yard free relay alongside Odmark, Meints, and Coert.

    Following the WIAC Championships, the NCAA selects the top qualifiers with “B” cuts to compete at Nationals, which took place in Indiana March 21-24. While Collin was selected for competition, Dayton was not. Collin was one of only two Blugolds to qualify for Nationals, aside from Dylan Glumac-Berberich, a second-year diver.

    Looking back on his recently finished swimming career, Dayton said he’s nothing but grateful.

    Being able to compete at conference was an honor,” Dayton Miller said. “Swimming next to my brother and friends that I will  have for the rest of my life, while being able to give God the glory has been more than a dream come true.”

    On the first day of Nationals, Collin started off strong in the 200-yard IM as he clocked in at 1:48:21 in the morning’s prelims. He broke the UW-Eau Claire record and received the top seed going into the finals.

    In Wednesday night’s finals, Miller placed fourth and won the first All-American title of his swimming career.

    He said knew he felt good going to Nationals, but he could never dream he would attain the All-American honor.

    “It was a great feeling, Collin said. “I went into the race knowing I was about to drop a significant amount of time, but I’ve learned that it’s important not to expect anything in regards to placement and rank.”

    On the third day of Nationals, Collin kept his momentum.

    He participated in the 100-yard breaststroke and in the mornings prelims and managed to set yet another school record with a time of 54.46. However, Collin was disqualified from competition in finals, leaving him unable to place or score in the event.

    On Saturday, the final day of the meet, Collin didn’t disappoint in the 100-yard free.

    With the end of his season in sight, he clocked in at 44.89, breaking his third school record at the National meet. In the finals, he finished in 14th place overall and clocked in at 44.96.

    Together, the Miller brothers set a new standard for Blugold swimming with a handful of broken records. While Dayton has finished his career, Collin said he will never forget competing with his brother.

    “Being on the same team as Dayton has been such a huge blessing for me and my teammates,” Collin said. “I look up to him a lot so having him as a role model and a leader on the team has been amazing. It has been an incredible last two years of swimming with him.”