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Decades after helping launch Vanderbilt’s first women’s swim team, Jan Hildebrandt dives into competitive swimming again

Dec. 19, 2018, 5:51 PM

Jan Diner Hildebrandt retired from competitive swimming the day her senior season ended at Vanderbilt. Or so she thought. Nearly 40 years later, Hildebrandt, a 1979 graduate of the School of Engineering, found herself competing in the U.S. Masters Swimming Nationals, a long-course pool meet featuring the best amateur adult swimmers from across the country.

“Other than playing with my kids in the pool, I never swam after college,” says Hildebrandt, who worked in electrical engineering and marketing for 3M before retiring in 2014. “I never swam competitively. Never worked out in the pool.”

That changed after Hildebrandt was forced to undergo knee replacement surgery five years ago at the age of 56. “Swimming was the best rehab for my knee,” she says. “I couldn’t do much else, so I swam.”