Former Indiana University standout Mackenzie Looze is retiring from competitive swimming to pursue a master’s degree in speech pathology starting this fall at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston.
The 23-year-old recently exhausted her fifth year of NCAA eligibility swimming for her dad, longtime Hoosiers head coach Ray Looze. At the 2023 Big Ten Championships, the younger Looze placed third in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:08.58), seventh in the 200 IM (1:57.38), and eighth in the 400 IM (4:11.78). She made multiple A-finals at the conference championship meet during all five of her seasons in Bloomington.
Looze went on to place 16th in the 400 IM (4:12.54) at the 2023 NCAA Championships, earning honorable mention All-America honors in the event for the first time since her freshman season in 2019, while also anchoring Indiana’s 800 free relay with a 1:45.23 split to help the Hoosiers place seventh. Her best performance at NCAAs came last year, when she placed 12th in the 200 breast (2:07.04), 13th in the 200 IM (1:55.54), and also was a member of three relay teams.
In long course, Looze was on a promising upward trajectory, especially in the 200-meter breast. She placed sixth at last year’s International Team Trials with a 2:27.60 before shaving more than two seconds off her lifetime best to win the U.S. Nationals title in 2:25.35 last July, which made her the 25th-fastest American in history. Looze went on to represent Team USA internationally at the 2022 Duel in the Pool in Sydney, Australia.
Looze’s best time in the 200 breast (2:25.35) would have seeded her sixth for this week’s U.S. Nationals, within range of a second straight U.S. National Team berth, but she told SwimSwam that “life without swimming was begging for me to live it.” Plus, the prospect of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics next summer seems unlikely as long as 26-year-old defending world champion Lilly King and 21-year-old phenom Kate Douglass are firing on all cylinders.
“I would have pushed through, but that would mean deferring a year of grad school for a long shot at making the Olympic team,” Looze said. “Life without swimming was begging for me to live it. It was time to follow my academic passions and start living my life on my own terms.
“Swimming was amazing and it taught me so much, but it held me back from many things, like traveling, pouring my whole self into school, relationships and self discovery,” she continued. “I couldn’t postpone any of those things for even a second longer, so I retired. It’s been a painful process full of what ifs and grieving the end of my swimming career, but I know in the long run that it was the correct decision for me.”
At the 2022 International Team Trials, held just about a month after NCAAs, Looze made A-finals in all four of her events. She placed 4th in the 200 IM with a 2:13.28 that would have seeded her 12th this week, 5th in the 400 IM (4:44.95), 6th in the 200 breast (2:25.35), and 7th in the 100 breast (1:08.83).
Looze also competed at the most recent Olympic Trials in 2021. She placed 10th in the 200 breast (2:27.85), 17th in the 200 IM (2:14.76), 18th in the 100 breast (1:09.05), 27th in the 400 IM (4:49.24), and 35th in the 200 fly (2:16.88).