On October 23, San Jose State sophomore swimmer Andreea Dragoi won the Miss Ambassador US Nation Beauty Pageant, just less than two months after she won the Miss California U.S. Nation Pageant. By virtue of her title as Miss California U.S. Nation, Dragoi qualified to participate in the Miss U.S. Nation Beauty Pageant that took place in Washington D.C., where she ran against different local beauty pageant winners across the country.
The Miss US Nation pageant is one out of the several national-level beauty pageants in America, which includes the Miss USA pageant (which selects the American entrant for the Miss Universe pageant) and the Miss America pageant. According to the Miss US Nation pageant website, the competition is “focused on molding the careers of aspiring models by helping the young ladies with self-awareness, confidence building, public speaking & gaining the proper exposure to reach their goals.”
Participants in the Miss US Nation Pageant have to go through four rounds of judging: a panel interview where they are tested on their speaking skills, a portion of the competition where the contestant has to wear a swimsuit/athletic wear so they can be judged based on their dedication to a “healthy, fit, lifestyle”, a stage showing where contestants wear a floor-length evening gown to be judged based on their “poise, elegance, and stage presence”, and an on-stage question which tests the contestants’ ability to think on their feet.
“I am grateful for all the people I have in my life that make me happy and support me. And I am thankful that I now can have a say and influence the stereotypes and stigmas in the pageant and modeling world.” Dragoi said of her pageant run. “This accomplishment means a better version of myself as I learn many new things from every pageant, every girl, every different culture, and lastly a new experience”
Dragoi has been able to successfully balance being a swimmer and a beauty pageant this NCAA season, having participated in almost all of San Jose State’s meets (only missing the November 4 meet against Stanford). She most recently competed at the 2022 Missouri Invite, where she finished 28th in the 50 free (26.28), 12th in the 100 fly (57.28), and 6th in the 200 fly (2:05.50) and set season-bests in all of her events (her season-best in the 200 fly is a 2:05.38 from prelims).
In her freshman year at SJSU (the 2021-22 NCAA season), Dragoi qualified for the 2022 CSCAA National Championships, where she once again swam the 200 fly and finished 23rd. She also competed at the 2022 Mountain West Conference Championships, where she scored 15 points for SJSU by placing 12th in the 200 fly and setting a best time of 2:02.22.
A native of Romania, Dragoi has represented her birth country at multiple international competitions like the 2019 European and World Junior Championships, where she placed 17th in the 200 fly, 27th in the 200 IM, and 34th in both the 50 and 100 fly at the latter meet.
Dragoi’s Best Times (SCY and LCM):
- 100 yard fly: 56.95
- 200 yard fly: 2:02.22
- 50 meter fly: 28.74
- 100 meter fly: 1:02.03
- 200 meter fly: 2:15.38
- 200 meter IM: 2:20.96
Although Dragoi has seen success both as a swimmer and a beauty pageant, it did not come without challenge. She had to endure two serious injuries recently, as she first dislocated her kneecap in 2019 and then partially tore her ACL in fall 2021, which caused her to miss training for three weeks. Because of her physical setbacks, she has chosen to study rehabilitation sciences in college.
Dragoi isn’t the only person in the swimming community who has been involved in beauty pageants before. In fact, the most notable “beauty queen” connected to swimming also came from California. Nicole Johnson (who now goes by Nicole Phelps), the wife of 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, won the Miss California USA title in 2010, and placed ninth overall in the national-level Miss USA competition that year.