By Lance Jordan, Sports Editor
There has been no shortage of talent in the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ men’s and women’s swimming and diving team’s roster. Announced January 31 at the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) office, UMSL’s Merel Visser, freshman, criminology, was awarded her first Women’s Athlete of the Week award.
Visser stated the award did not put any pressure on her going into the GLVC Championships, and that she did not find out about the award through the GLVC office.
“I didn’t even know, honestly. I found out through our own Facebook page [UMSL Swimming & Diving] and the UMSL athletics page,” Visser said. “It feels really great to get something like that.”
Originating from Delden, Netherlands, Visser began going to sports clubs at the age of eight years old. Different from American society with schools hosting athletic activities for kids to participate in. In the Netherlands and many other foreign countries, sports clubs are created by its members, players and supporters, and act separately from any institutions. Being recognized as a good swimmer, Visser continued her career of swimming.
“I really liked it, my lifeguards, coaches, and family were supporting me,” Visser said. “I’m from a really sporty family, so if you play sports you’re fine.”
After talking with UMSL’s head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach, Tomas Kuzvard, Visser realized that the university would give her the best opportunity not only in swimming but academics as well. Visser stated, “UMSL really jump-started its criminology program, so that was one really good reason to come here. Then after Skyping with coach [Kuzvard], I had a feeling we could have this nice bond, so that really pulled me in.”
Visser continues to cause waves on the Triton’s women’s swim team, as Visser swam to a school record in the 1,000-yard freestyle (10:52:38) on January 28 at a tri-meet at NCAA DI school Saint Louis University.
Motivated on the possibility of going to nationals, Visser is sure to go far in her swim career. “I’m really hoping to make it to nationals once. That would be really great,” Visser said.
Visser puts in hard work both in and outside the pool, with improving her technique and endurance to hopefully make it to nationals. Outside of swimming, Visser studies criminology with police officer being just one of her possible career goals. After getting over the challenges of her first semester, she has seemingly found a good athletic-academic balance in order to find success here at UMSL.
Visser enjoys meeting new people through activities on campus along with going on adventures. One of her favorite locations outside the campus is the Delmar Loop, where she can grab a coffee or froyo. Visser also enjoys reading primarily crime-related books, but she has finished the new “Harry Potter” book as well.
Visser, along with the men’s and women’s swim teams, will continue to display their impressive skills and talents in the GLVC Championships, a four-day event starting February 8 in Crawfordsville, Indiana.