It'd be easy for Hillary Staab to covet the swimming career her older brother had at Stanford University.

It'd be easy for Hillary Staab to covet the swimming career her older brother had at Stanford University.

After all, Austin Staab, a 2007 Westerville Central High School graduate, won four national titles individually while competing for the Cardinal. Two of those titles came during the national championships held March 24-26 in Minneapolis when he captured the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley titles. He also was on the winning 200 freestyle relay.

Still, Austin envies his sister for capturing the one thing he couldn't a national team title. Hillary, a 2008 Central graduate, has been part of three Division II national championship teams at Drury University while Stanford finished third three times during Austin's career.

"I'm extremely happy for her and a little jealous," Austin said. "That's what I strived for at Stanford, but we weren't that lucky."

"At Drury, we've had our national titles and we're extremely proud of that," Hillary said. "But I'll never be able to claim I have a national title, an NCAA record or anything like Austin can."

Located in Springfield, Mo., Drury this year became the first program to sweep the Division II men's and women's swimming and diving national championships three consecutive seasons. The women's team scored 483.5 points in the national meet held March 9-12 in San Antonio, finishing ahead of runner-up Wayne State (388) and third-place UC San Diego (338).

Two weeks later in Minneapolis, the Stanford men's team scored 403 points to finish third behind California (493) and Texas (470.5).

Although he didn't achieve his goal of winning the team championship, Austin, who was the Pac-10's co-Swimmer of the Year this past season, said the meet was one of the top achievements of his college career. The meet started with Austin teaming with Alex Coville, Jakob Allen and Aaron Wayne to win the 200 free relay in an American-record time of 1 minute, 15.2 seconds.

Austin, who holds the NCAA 100 fly record (44.18, which he swam in the 2009 national championships), won the national title in the 100 fly in 44.69, edging runner-up Tom Shields of California (44.91).

Even though Austin had beaten Shields in the Pac-10 championships, many considered Austin to be the underdog in the NCAA meet. Shields entered the finals seeded first (44.96), ahead of Austin (45.45).

"Every other day one of my teammates would ask me, 'How are you going to beat Shields?'" Austin said. "Either they were trying to get me psyched up or making me worried I might lose to him. I don't know which."

Austin followed an unlikely path to the 200 IM title. He hadn't swum the event in college until a dual meet against California on Feb. 19. Stanford needed points to defeat the Golden Bears, so coach Skip Kenney stuck Austin in the event and he responded with a time of 1:47.18. Austin asked to compete in the event again in the Pac-10 meet and won in 1:42.01, which at the time was the fastest time in the country.

"After that, it was set in stone that I was going to swim it at the NCAA meet," Austin said.

Personal success hasn't come as easily for Hillary, who has struggled to regain her high school form. In the Division I state meet her senior year at Central, she teamed with Karli Kentner, Lauren Agee and Haley Agee to place fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:48.57) and sixth in the 400 free relay (3:36.97), teamed with Haley Agee, Lauren Agee and Kimi Kentner to place eighth in the 200 free relay (1:40.08) and finished 17th in the 100 backstroke (1:00.49).

However, Hillary has battled degenerative disc disease in her back throughout her college career. She started experiencing back pain six years ago, but it gradually increased to the point where she can't swim the breaststroke or fly.

"Unfortunately, it's an injury that only gets worse with time," she said. "I'm just pushing through it and trying to get through my senior year. Hopefully, everything will end well."

Hillary teamed with Jacquelyn Haines, Jessica Boyer and Meghan Gleason to place fourth in the 400 medley relay (4:11.9) in the New South Intercollegiate Conference championships Feb. 9-12 at Delta State in West Cleveland, Miss.

Although she didn't compete in the national meet, Drury coach Brian Reynolds told Hillary that she served as an inspiration to those who did.

"He told me, '95 percent of the people in your situation would have given up by now. I can't tell you how proud I am you've kept going,'" Hillary said. "That made me cry.

"Many people have said to me, 'I don't know how you made it through that practice. I was dying and watching you finish it helped me through it.' I'm so happy to be a part of this incredible team."

One of the things that has helped Hillary through the pain has been the support of her family. Because the Staab siblings have been around 2,000 miles apart, Austin has not gotten a chance to see his sister compete in college, a situation he hopes to rectify this coming season.

But Hillary knows that her brother is always looking out for her.

"Since we've been at college, we don't talk as much, but before a big meet, I'll get a text from Austin saying, 'Good luck today. Let me know how you do today,'" she said. "We're there for each other."

This coming season, Hillary should have family support at every meet, as her younger sister, Chelsea, will be a freshman swimmer for Drury.

"Throughout high school, we've fought about every little thing," Hillary said with a laugh. "But when she came out on her recruiting trip, I really wanted her to come out here. Next year, she'll be more of a teammate now as opposed to my little sister who liked to fight with me all the time."

Austin Staab, a 2007 Westerville Central graduate, captured the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley titles during the NCAA national championships held March 24-26 in Minneapolis.