Canadian swimmers ‘thankful’ to compete at USD
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Canadian swimmers ‘thankful’ to compete at USD

Three Yotes trekked from Canada to USD for collegiate swimming careers.

The accommodations made by the university really helped ease their travel to USD, said senior Kellee Lekavy.

“I’m 14 hours north of the border, and so being so far away flights are really expensive. USD said they would accommodate me with the travel, so a week after my official visit I committed,” Lekavy said.

Senior Kassidie Cornell said there were a lot of scholarship money and opportunities available in United States swimming.

“I knew I wanted to continue swimming, and if I swim at the NCAA Division 1 level, then I would be satisfied with my swimming career,” Cornell said. “I knew that I couldn’t go down here if I wasn’t getting a scholarship, so when USD showed a lot of interest in me and had the major I wanted, it ended up being a great fit.”

In addition to USD’s cost-effectiveness, opportunities, accommodations and smaller size, the coaches’ emphasis on school first made sophomore Tanner Espersen think USD would be the perfect fit.

“After my first semester, my old school shut down the nursing program, so I was forced to change my major or find a new school,” Espersen said. “I knew I wanted this size school, and USD fit the list of things I wanted in a school. I really like the coaching staff too, which is a big help.”

Splashing into next season

The swimmers are gearing up for competition season, along with the transition into winter months.

“Back home the winters are pretty brutal, I think last Wednesday we got 23 inches of snow,” Lekavy said.

This is Espersen’s first experience with the Midwest transition from fall to winter, he said.

“It’s really windy here,” he said. “I’ve never been in wind like this before in my life.”

For seniors Cornell and Lekavy, the season comes with mixed emotions.

“They say it goes by fast, and it really truly does,” Cornell said. “I’ve been so thankful to travel and compete at this D1 level. After this year I’m thinking about applying to grad schools in Canada.”

Levaky said she’s looking forward to “having fun and racing.”

“I’m also really looking forward to our training trip – it’s my last one and we will be going to Key Largo in Florida,” Levaky said. “Over Christmas, we come back a little early and go somewhere tropical.”

Other training trips included Puerto Rico and San Diego. During these trips, the team explored new areas, ventured downtown, tried snorkeling and made memories in between really intense training sessions, Levaky said.

“They are super personal, and both teammates and coaches actually want to know about your life and care about what’s going on,” Espersen said. “It’s like a family. It’s really nice.”

The swim and dive team has competed in five scored meets so far this season.

“I’m giving it my all, knowing that when I touch the wall for the last time in February I definitely will be crying,” Cornell said. “It’s mixed emotions, there is excitement but sadness as well. It takes a while to adjust because it’s something that you have known for so long.”

The team will have its next competition on Nov. 10 at Iowa State.