International Swimmers Test SMU Waters

December 7, 2008  

SMU swimmer Petra Klosova, of the Czech Republic, is one of many international athletes studying at SMU.  She is part of a growing contingent of foreign-born swimmers trying to adjust to life at SMU.

SMU swimmer Petra Klosova of the Czech Republic is one of many international athletes studying at SMU. She is part of a growing contingent of foreign-born swimmers trying to adjust to life at SMU. (PHOTO BY SAM TODD / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

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By Sam Todd
stodd@smu.edu

SMU swimming coach Steve Collins plays a large part in developing an international squad. In his 22 years here at SMU, Coach Collins has also learned to address the things parents worry about while their child is studying abroad.

“We’ve had a strong tradition of recruiting international swimmers to our programs,” Collins said. “And when I’m recruiting somebody, I’m able to talk to them, talk to their families and let them know that they’re going to be well taken care of here.”

He added, “I know the different types of situations they’re going to run into, whether its trying to get a social security number or figuring out how to get a Texas driver’s license.”

International Athletes Adapt to Life in Dallas

One international swimmer on the Mustang squad, Petra Klosova, is in her third year on the team. She came to Dallas from a small town in the Czech Republic. As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas, and Klosova has certainly noticed that while studying here at SMU.

“Here, everything is humongous,” Klosova said. “All the goods, the food and all that stuff are much, much bigger than where I’m from. First time I saw it, it was shock.”

Collins said because the team is so international, new swimmers have older teammates help them manage living in a new place and in a new country.

“Every year a new swimmer comes in, we’ll probably have two or three that have already gone through it that are on the team,” said Collins. “So they’ve got some mentors built in.”

U.S. Swimmers Reach Out to International Teammates

One of these new swimmers is freshman Theresa Svendsen of Sweden. She started the her first semester as an SMU student as well as a student athlete.

“We help each other, so it’s not like the international swimmers are on their own and the American swimmers are on their own,” Svendsen said.

Collins said he is proud of the team he has developed here at SMU, and if given the chance to do it over, would recruit international swimmers, again.

“I really like the diversity of having a team with people from all over the world,” he said. “We’ve got really strong team unity, which is something we really pride ourselves on.”

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