Janzen continues success in junior campaign

Kiera Janzen won three titles at the Arena Grand Prix over the weekend.

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

Lisa Persson

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

by David Nelson

There are two sides to Gophers junior distance freestyler Kiera Janzen: the fun-loving, outgoing Janzen outside the pool and the fiery, competitive Janzen in the water.

Janzen’s opponents met the latter at the Arena Grand Prix last week.

She squared off with U.S. national team member Megan Romano on Thursday night in the 200-yard freestyle, losing by just 0.14 seconds.

“I was really pumped up for that race, so when I got touched out, I was not too pleased,” Janzen said.

That displeasure fueled Janzen’s competitive fire the rest of the weekend, and she won the 500 freestyle, 1,650 freestyle and 800 freestyle relay.

Janzen’s strong performances in the distance events this year have been the product of her work ethic. She’s worked with former Gophers All-American, Big Ten champion and U.S. national team member Ashley Steenvoorden.

Steenvoorden said it’s nice to have a training partner in the pool because swimming is seen as an individual sport. But Janzen’s training started long before the two knew each other.

As the daughter of a swimming coach and sister of a swimmer, Janzen was always around the pool.

Her competitive spirit flashed from an early age, and from that point on, Janzen blossomed as a swimmer.

As a member of the Cretin-Derham Hall High School team, she broke seven school records and Minnesota State High School League records in the 200 and 500 freestyles.

Janzen arrived on campus, and she quickly made a name for herself as a freshman competing at the NCAA championships.

She placed 24th in the 1,650 freestyle, 39th in the 500 freestyle and 48th in the 200 freestyle.

Amid success in her freshman and sophomore years, Janzen’s focus has remained the same into her junior campaign.

“The process she’s going through to become a better swimmer is evident every day,” head coach Kelly Kremer said. “In and out of the pool, she’s grown as a person and as an athlete.”

Her work ethic has rubbed off on her teammates — especially so for sophomore breaststroker Kierra Smith, who said she thinks of Janzen as a “big sister.”

“Kiera’s one of the hardest workers in the pool,” Smith said. “I think she does everything she can for herself and for the team to leave the program better than when she came into it.”

For swimmers across the country, competing in the Olympics is a constant dream.

Janzen is no different, and Kremer said it’s an attainable goal.

“[She’s] begun to do the things in and out of the pool that actually give [her] the opportunity to set a goal like being an Olympian,” Kremer said.