Shouts from the Stands: I am Also So Much More than Just a Swimmer

SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]

This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Kalina Emaus, a swimmer at Northern State University.

I am driven by passion, seized by obsession, delighted by creation, enthralled with expression, entranced by vision, filled with emotion, and blindsided by inspiration. I am also so much more than just a swimmer.

I am from a small town in Michigan about 30 minutes from Lake Michigan. I have few memories of my childhood not being in the water. We had a pool in our neighborhood and I would be in there from 10:00 in the morning until sunset. I would go in Lake Michigan and go in the water on the coldest of days. Water was my first love and my safe from reality. I dreamed of being a cop and a mermaid as child. But when becoming a professional mermaid was clearly not going to workout for me and I was scared of driving being a cop wasn’t going to work either, I had to find other things to do. Today, I enjoy doing anything outside, skateboarding, being with animals, doodling, deep conversations, playing guitar, antiquing, traveling, 80s music and simple things like blowing bubbles. My dream is to become an outdoor behavior therapists. I’m a self proclaimed geek despite not being book smart & love learning about the world. I’m currently in the process of learning about being a chimera which means being your own twin. And just for a fun fact I’m ambidextrous.

Over time I’ve realized I can do something all day long such as swimming but being a swimmer doesn’t necessarily define who you are. It is simply something I find some kind of meaning in doing but it is not the core of who I am. Who I am and what guides my path is found in what I have learned in life so far.

In 21 years I have learned lessons about hope, strength, and about the light within us that can not be extinguished.

I was struck by an idea presented by Sheryl Sandberg at the University of California at Berkeley commencement ceremony in 2016. That we are not born with a fixed amount of resiliency. It is a muscle we can grow by choosing to find joy and meaning in the face of our challenges. Through growing this muscle we find who we really are.

We are stars, born with fire and wit. When the winds whip around us we all have one gift inside of us. No one can break the light inside of us, no one can tell us who we will become. We choose what we make out of this life. Happiness is not yesterday, tomorrow it is now. Happiness is not dependency but a decision. Happiness is how I’d like to describe who I am. Someone who finds meaning in life, someone who believes this world is still an a beautiful place.

As I entered senior year I have two goals for tg season as well as life which is to work hard and be happy as well as grateful for what each moment of life and swimming brings. Thank you for giving me a chance to be apart of this swim team. I will to do my part in any and every way to make this team a positive environment. Lastly; “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am convicted.”

More than just a swimmer


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Great words. Thanks for sharing.

Josh Davis

Proud of you!


Aw Josh! I can’t believe you saw this, I’m beyond touched. You are actually the reason I’m ambidextrous–I remember being in Texas with you when I was 12 and found out you were left handed & wanted to be just like you. So I began doing everything like a lefty! Thank you for being an incredible role model in my life. God is so good.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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