Jimmies' Kiecker returns home to finish swimming career
Kiecker has participated in 10 different events during her career with the Jimmies.
JAMESTOWN — In what is the second season for the University of Jamestown women’s swimming and diving program, the team only has one upperclassman and she happens to be a Jamestown native.
After two years at the University of Mary, Courtnay Kiecker transferred to the University of Jamestown for her last two years of swimming.
“I chose to swim at UJ because I’m from Jamestown and had always said if they had a swim team then that’s where I would’ve gone right out of high school,” Kiecker said.
After deciding her competitive swimming career was over during the summer of 2020, Kiecker said she heard about the program starting at UJ and changed her mind.
Despite the KCAC Championships starting on the morning of Feb. 2, Kiecker did not start her tournament until the evening of Feb. 2, when she participated in the relay. She said having the morning off helped her be a fan of her teammates and not be worried about concentrating on her own events. Mallery said his goals for Kiecker and the rest of her teammates as the event continues on Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, Feb. 4, are to qualify for the finals in their events and make the national championships.
“I think it’s gone well just as we’re at the pinnacle at conference (championships) for many of them and a few will move onto nationals,” Mallery said. “The team is about half the size it should be so every person plays a very critical role. … This visibility that’s occurring is important for the development of a program, and Courtney has been a part of that.”
During her career as a Jimmie, Kiecker’s best time in an individual event came in the 50-yard backstroke event at 21.43 during the Jimmies meet against Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia University-St.Paul. Kiecker’s best time in the 100-yard backstroke is 1:06.82, which she accomplished at the 2022 KCAC Championships.
“My best event is the 100 backstroke,” Kiecker said. “I have been adjusting my race strategy in that event over this season and I feel very very confident about it going into conference (championships). I am seeded just inside the top 16, so I am hoping to make finals for that event again this year.”
As her current season has progressed, Jimmies head coach Craig Mallery said he has seen Kiecker be more relaxed and put less pressure on herself.
“She’s in her senior year and I think when you get to the end of a long career like that you are at peace in some ways of the career ending and that takes away a lot of expectations that people put on themselves,” Mallery said. “They’re able to go into races with a little more relaxed attitude.”
Since the start of the Jimmies program, they have been sharing the pool at Jamestown High School with the Blue Jay swimming and diving teams.
“I have really enjoyed being back in my home pool for the past two years,” Kiecker said. “I swam some of my best races in that pool when I was in high school and made countless memories. So, being able to come back and make more memories has been really wholesome. It was kind of bittersweet to swim my last practice in the pool I swam my first practice in though.”
During her four years as a collegiate swimmer, Kiecker swam under four head coaches.
“Coach Craig (Mallery) is the most experienced out of all the coaches I have had,” Kiecker said. “He adjusted practices to the individual so they can play with and develop their strengths. Leah (Neiheisel) and Alex (Raasch) were more cookie cutter in their coaching styles, everyone did the same practice for the most part and there wasn’t a lot of variation.”
As she heads into the conference championships, Kiecker said she is not worried about qualifying for the NAIA National Championships.
“While going to nationals would be incredible, that is not necessarily my goal going into this meet,” Kiecker said. “I am more concerned about feeling like I did everything I could in each of my races and if the nationals time cut is there then awesome.”