Senior Janzen swims on despite crash

Minnesota's Kiera Janzen competes at the 2013 Arena Grand Prix Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

Daily File Photo

Minnesota's Kiera Janzen competes at the 2013 Arena Grand Prix Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

Sam Kraemer

Just two weeks before this year’s NCAA championships, a car accident left senior swimmer Kiera Janzen with a concussion.
Janzen worked her way back to recovery, but before the team flew out to North Carolina for the competition last month, she fainted at the airport. She was unconscious for about 25 
minutes.
The medical issues kept Janzen from competing in the final races of her collegiate career. But this summer, the six-time All-American will have a chance for redemption.
Shortly after the NCAA championships ended earlier this month, Janzen received a spot on the U.S. roster for the 2015 Pan American Games this summer in Toronto.
Though she swam as part of junior national teams before college, Janzen said the new opportunity is special.
 
“Just representing the U.S. at one of the highest levels of the sport takes it to a different level,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
 
In the upcoming months between graduating and training for the international competition, Janzen will be busy.
 
Janzen’s mother, Lisa, is relieved to see her daughter swim again. 
 
“It has been a roller coaster. It was the lowest of lows when she couldn’t perform at the NCAA championships,” Lisa Janzen said. “Now, it’s a big thrill. We can’t wait to watch her.”
 
Lisa Janzen drove her daughter 21 hours from Minneapolis to North Carolina to support the Gophers at the NCAA championships.
 
Janzen will swim the 400- and 800-meter freestyle races for the U.S., and has the potential to swim on the 800-meter freestyle relay.
 
While watching the NCAA championships, Lisa Janzen said it was clear that Kiera wanted to be back in the water.
 
“Especially when her races would come up, it was really hard for her to watch that heat she knew she could have competed and done well in,” Lisa Janzen said.
 
She said her daughter’s determination to chase after her goals has been with her since she was a toddler.
 
In Kiera Janzen’s first conversation with Minnesota head coach Kelly Kremer, she made him aware of her goal to receive a medal at the Olympics with Team USA.
 
Now, Kremer said he is happy that Janzen is going to represent her country and have the chance to prove herself for the 2016 Olympics.
 
“I think the timing is really good because she doesn’t have to wait four years for the Olympics,” he said. “She should have no trouble staying focused.”
 
Kiera Janzen said she owes a lot of her success to her coach.
 
“When I was a senior [in high school], my times weren’t the fastest and all that special. But Kelly [Kremer] stuck with me, believed in my work ethic and … helped me to progress as an athlete,” Kiera Janzen said.
 
Though a car crash cut her Gophers career short, Kiera Janzen’s time competing is far from over.
 
“It’s been fabulous to watch her represent her state and now to watch her represent her country,” Lisa Janzen said. “There’s really nothing better than that.”