Canadian National Runner-Up Kesa Taivassalo Commits to South Carolina

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Canadian swimmer Kesa Taivassalo has announced her verbal commitment to continue her swim career and study at the University of South Carolina beginning in the fall of 2025. Taivassalo currently trains with the Markham Aquatic Club and attends Bill Crothers Secondary School in Markham, Ontario.

“I am super proud and excited to announce my verbal commitment to further both my athletic and academic career at the University of South Carolina! The moment I stepped on campus for my official, the team made me feel so welcome and the coaches were nothing but helpful. Coach Jeff’s vision for the future of the program is something I want to be part of and can’t wait to see what the future holds. This is only the beginning!!”

Taivassalo set a best time of LCM 2:35.17 at the Speedo Canadian Championships last year in the 200 breast, placing 2nd overall and ranking 2nd among the 15-16 age group nationwide for the year. She only trailed Summer McIntosh, the world record holder in the 400 IM, who posted a time of 2:29.56. Taivassalo earned a total of 15 personal bests between SCM and LCM in 2023.

This year, Taivassalo continued to improve with 10 personal bests, including a noteworthy performance at the Winter Ontario Championships (LCM), where she claimed victory in the 200 breast with a time of 2:33.16.

In comparison, senior Laura Goettler has been a standout performer for the Gamecocks this season, clocking 2:10.29 in the 200 breast, a time that ranks her 5th overall in the program’s history. Meanwhile, freshman Delaney Franklin and sophomore Meaghan Harnish have also made significant contributions, with Franklin securing the 2nd spot in the 200 breast for the University of South Carolina with a time of 2:12.31, closely followed by Harnish with her time of 2:13.57.

While Taivassalo’s top SCY times date back to 2022, her LCM times, when converted, demonstrate competitiveness on par with the University of South Carolina’s leading breaststroke swimmers.

Top LCM Times and SCY Conversions 

LCM SCY Conversion
100 breast – 1:12.63 1:03.63
200 breast – 2:33.16 2:14.37
200 IM – 2:30.92 2:13.08

While Taivassalo prepares to make her mark at the University of South Carolina, swimming has long been a shared passion within her family. Her older brother, Brayden Taivassalo, swam for the University of Texas as a freshman this season where he secured gold in the 200 breast (1:53.28) at the Big 12 Championships.

He won a silver medal in the LCM 200 breast (2:10.89) at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago. In the same year, Brayden Taivassalo ranked 1st in Canada for the 17-18 age group in the LCM 50 breast, 100 breast, and 200 breast.

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Jack Skellington
17 days ago

What a sweatshirt! Cracks me up.

You will know my name
17 days ago

Biased opinion of course (are there any other kind?)
But seeing talent like this over and over and over again seemingly fleeing Canada because a G7 nation cannot provide superior student athletes with ample opportunities to continue their pursuits in sports and academia boggles my mind

Games people play
Reply to  You will know my name
17 days ago

Do people really go to South Carolina for its academic rigor? 🤔

Plenty of Canadian swimmers have demonstrated they can get a great education and swim through USports.

With that said, there is a lot to be said for young people going to live, learn and grow by living in another country.

Reply to  Games people play
16 days ago

Actually you would be surprised, South Carolina has the #1 Honors College in the US.

Reply to  eastcoastswim
16 days ago

And one of the best business programs as well

Trials Countdown
Reply to  eastcoastswim
15 days ago

Most schools don’t have Honors Programs. More of a high school structure.

Reply to  Games people play
15 days ago

Are you serious? Trying to compare the experience of USports to the NCAA is a joke. Majority of swimmers are unable to continue the commitment at the high level of swimming requires once they move on to the Canadian post-secondary scene. Canadian Universities have time after time demonstrated the true meaning of “STUDENT-athlete” by committing very limited resources and accommodations towards any students pursuing ventures out of the lecture hall. Unless you attend U of T, Calgary or UBC don’t be surprised to feel like you just can’t keep up with the demands of academia while pursuing any hopes of making a National Team. Of course there will be exceptions which need to be celebrated as seen from recently from… Read more »

Reply to  You will know my name
16 days ago

Better weather at South Carolina and Texas?

Reply to  You will know my name
16 days ago

The amount of money poured into university sports in the USA is astronomical compared to any other country in the world.This money comes from profits derived from NCAA football.The Big Ten generated 850 million in their last contract alone.This money allows American universities to build great facilities, with absolutely world class coaching.Canadians can benefit from this situation by going to the US.Still reasonably close to home and with a familiar society ,its a great opportunity for Canadian swimmers.I don,t see Canada or any other country having a chance to develop anything comparable.