Swimming at South Dakota State: Senior fulfills goal of swimming in college, receives scholarship

Meredith Strickland, Staff Writer

The scholarship is on the line as she stands on the swimming block. Ready to swim the important race, she dives in. She paces herself to achieve the best time. Pushing her muscles to the max, she propels against the water. Hitting the finishing block, the timer stops the watch. She looks up at the time board that determines her future.
Senior Katya Vakshteyn will attend Division-I school South Dakota State University (SDSU) for swimming.
“I received an athletic scholarship for swimming that will cover most of my tuition, room and board costs for next year,” Vakshteyn said.
After swimming for the Kansas City Blazers since she was 8 years old, the hard work has paid off.
Vakshteyn will be swimming for three different events at SDSU — the 400 individual medley, 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke.
Vakshteyn said she chose to swim in college because she has been swimming for so long and she can’t imagine her life without it. She said it has always been her goal.
Vakshteyn’s swimming at Blue Valley has not only been noticed by SDSU.
“I was offered swimming scholarship money by Eastern Illinois University and William Jewell University,” Vakshteyn said. “I chose South Dakota State because when I visited, it was my favorite school. They offered everything I was looking for in a school, and there was just this feeling I got when I was there — I knew it was the place for me.”
Vakshteyn said her parents approve and understand her decision to go to SDSU.
“My parents accepted the fact that staying in state and swimming were not going to happen for me,” she said. “I had been looking at schools outside of Kansas since last year actually. But since I have a good scholarship and I’m going to a good academic school for my major, they are fine with it.”
Coaches support Vakshteyn in her hopes for college success in swimming.
“My coaches are really happy with my swimming and my decision,” she said. “South Dakota State was a school that I was looking at for a long time and not until recently did I get the times that were necessary for the scholarship I wanted. When they heard about my decision, they were really happy because that had been my goal all year.”
Vakshteyn said she would like to be one of the hardest working swimmers and place at the conference meet.
“By my senior year [in college], I hope to have at least one of their school records,” she said.
Vakshteyn said she is excited and anxious to experience college life.
“I want to see things outside of the JoCo bubble, and I want to see what it’s like to be totally independent,” she said. “I also can’t wait to meet new people and make new friends. That’s a big part of being in college, and I just can’t wait.”
BV swim coach Adam Bien also has high expectations for Vakshteyn when she attends college.
“Katya is a great leader by example,” Bien said. “Other girls on the team see how hard she works and how fast she is, and it motivates them in practice. We have been working on her college recruiting for two years now, and I believe she has found a college that will be a great fit for her and will take her to the next level in her swimming career.”
Vakshteyn said she will miss the BV Tiger family, but she is excited to go to SDSU.
“I will miss the team the most,” she said. “All the girls here are so great, and we get really close during the season.”