Senior Andrew Thiesse surpassed his own preseason goals this past weekend with a 19th overall finish at the SCAC National Championships in the 200 meter backstroke.
SCAC head coaches also named Thiesse Swimmer-of-the-Year for his season’s performance.
For most of his swim career, Thiesse was a distance freestyle swimmer and didn’t begin swimming the backstroke competitively until his Junior year of college. He quickly turned the event into one of his better events though and was able to qualify for nationals in it this year.
“I’ve always enjoyed backstroke I just never swam it competitively until last year. I’ve loved the event since I started it though,” Thiesse said.
Thiesse said that before the season he wanted to make nationals, but he expected to participate in the 500 meter freestyle. The 200 meter backstroke was an event that was still relatively new to him. He was surprised by his success. After narrowly missing nationals the last two years it was important to him to make it his senior year. At first, it looked like he might have been hundredths of seconds away from nationals once again as he was an alternate, but he continued training and ready and got a call saying they wanted him to come.
“He’s a very talented swimmer. Initially we were focusing on distance freestyle. He was the fastest in the conference in 500-meter and the mile … He was determined to do everything that he could to reach nationals,” said head swim coach John Ryan.
According to Thiesse, the push he received from his coaches and teammates was what helped him reach the levels he did in the event.
Ryan credits Thiesse for his attitude and effort in succeeding in a new event to reach the levels that he did. He laments losing him after this year, but is happy for the years he had to coach him.
Ryan said he knew Thiesse could make the switch and were not worried at all when they started working on the new event. He believed the work ethic he had seen would lead to an easier transition. Ryan said that he had Thiesse do a lot of kicking work which helped in the event, but most of the improvement and ability came from Thiesse and his own hard work.
“There’s not many people that worked harder than Andrew really. That man really just put his mind to something and made 100% sure he was going to accomplish it,” said junior Isaac Johnson.
Swimming was not the first sport that he fell in love with, however. Thiesse said that he did not start swimming until he was twelve and that was only after a bad injury playing soccer. He has swam almost every day since then on his journey to where he is now. After swimming for so long Thiesse says that he is having a hard time believing that it is actually over now after finishing his senior season.
“Yeah I’m not really sure what I’m going to do now,” Thiesse said.
Right now he is simply focusing on graduating this May and then moving on from college into the professional world. He says that swimming will probably still be a part of his life in one form or another, but looks forward to seeing what life has for him now that he isn’t swimming competitively.
Thiesse has won three events at the SCAC meet earlier this year in addition to his success at the national level; he won the 200 meter backstroke, the 400 meter individual medley (IM), and the 500 meter freestyle.
Thiesse also qualified for nationals in the 400 meter IM event.