Plant excels in, out of pool

Sam Kraemer

When head coach Kelly Kremer recruited Jessica Plant to swim at the University of Minnesota, he told her he envisioned her being an All-American by the end of her career.
 
Plant, who hails from Canada, said at the time, she didn’t even know what being an All-American meant. 
 
Now, with graduation just a few weeks away, she’s well aware of the honor. Her athletic abilities have reached an Olympic level, but she’s turned down the opportunity to pursue her education instead.
 
Plant will skip competing for the Canadian Olympic roster for 2016 to continue her education at Cornell University next fall. She was also awarded the 2015 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award last month by the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership — a $10,000 scholarship given to a male and female student-athlete who’s continuing his or her education past the undergraduate level.
 
“I think in any sport, very few people are going to take their athletics beyond their four years at Minnesota. So what they do in the classroom, that’s why they’re here,” Kremer said. “Jess has had a remarkable swimming career, and now she’s ready for that next phase in her life.”
 
The decision to skip the Olympics wasn’t all that difficult for Plant.
 
She swam at both the 2008 and 2012 Canadian Olympic trials and already qualified for 2016. But Plant is insisting on furthering her education instead.
 
“For most swimmers, their dream is to represent their country. I definitely always wanted that,” Plant said. “But I have a passion for learning, and realistically, this is a better move.”
 
Plant holds a double major in classical civilizations and art history. She plans to pursue her master’s degree in archaeology this fall and has hopes of one day becoming a college professor.
 
She said the key to her academic and athletic success lies in her discipline and work ethic.
 
“Swimming, if you let it get to you, it can be very mentally draining,” Plant said. “So keeping my emotions in check with that while dedicating time each day to homework, it’s been a challenge.”
 
With all of the extra activities that come with competing at a Division I school, senior Devin Ste. Marie said her teammate and roommate embodies what it means to be a student-athlete.
 
Ste. Marie said whether in the pool or in class, Plant works harder than anyone.
 
“She schedules out almost every hour of her day and knows exactly what she needs to get done,” Ste. Marie said. “But she uses her competitive drive to push the rest of us, too.”
 
Plant and the rest of the senior class have won all four Big Ten championships in their time with the Gophers.
 
Even before that class stepped foot on campus, Plant said, the group said it would win the conference championships each year.
 
And that’s exactly what they did. Plant said winning four Big Ten championships will be one of her favorite memories with Minnesota.
 
“This class is incredible, and for us to actually win the Big Ten championships all four years … it’s very special,” Plant said.
 
Though she’s retiring from swimming, Kremer said he’s very pleased with Plant’s contributions to the program over her past four years.
 
“She’s done everything we’ve asked of her and more,” he said. “She was as consistent as could be and did every event we asked her to do because of her love of the sport.”