The Pac-12 Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has voted to award WASHINGTON STATE women’s swimming student-athlete Anna Rosen with the Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award for 2016-17. Rosen received the award for her strength of character, dedication to her sport, and the strong desire to help others that she displayed throughout her career at Washington State, even as she struggled with a serious heart condition.
Rosen, despite being diagnosed with a rare heart condition, swam for three years at Washington State and set personal records with an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD) in her abdomen. She now has plans to use her mechanical engineering degree to create and improve medical devices such as her own to help others with similar conditions.
Rosen came to Pullman, Wash. from her home in Molndal, Sweden in the fall of 2013. Within her first month at Washington State, she was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a rare and serious heart condition that can lead to cardiac arrest. Doctors advised her to stop all physical activity and informed her that her life would be in danger if she were to exercise at all.
However, Rosen would not be deterred from doing everything in her power to achieve her athletic goals. With help and support from her coach and others in the Washington State athletic department, Rosen researched her condition and discovered a doctor at the Mayo Clinic who had done extensive research on Long QT Syndrome. After several long months of sitting still and waiting, Rosen got an appointment with that doctor and he explained her option of getting an ICD put in her body. The device would not cure her and would only be precautionary, but it might allow her to live her chosen lifestyle and to continue to swim for the Cougars.
Rosen was forced to red-shirt her freshman year due to her diagnosis and recovery from the procedure that implanted the ICD in her abdomen. After this long recovery, Rosen was finally back in the water in the fall of 2014, but she now had the challenge of managing the incredible pain she experienced while swimming with the device in her abdomen. Throughout her swimming career, she has refused to let her medical hardships or the pain of the ICD become a crutch or an excuse. Instead, Rosen has used her challenges to propel her own success and inspire her teammates.
Rosen set personal records in all of her events during her senior season (2016-17) and even earned a spot on her team’s A relay team. She is the first NCAA athlete to be cleared to swim with Long QT Syndrome and in fact has not found any other collegiate athletes who have the condition or have an ICD. She hopes that her experience can inspire others not to limit their potential based on a diagnosis or other medical challenge.
“Anna’s desire and willpower to be a Division I student-athlete in the Pac-12 Conference was undeniable. When the doctor told her she would never compete again, Anna did not settle for ‘no’. The athletic department and Anna did everything they could to get her back in the pool. She faced a number of challenges, overcame those obstacles, and became a leader in our program and a productive sprinter,” said Washington State head swimming coach Tom Jager.
“Anna’s accomplishments have been proud moments for all involved and I will never forget them. She is a great Coug and we are equally excited to see her pursue her goals and dreams. Anna will impact the world in a positive way and we are very fortunate to have had her represent Washington State,” Jager added.
Rosen overcame incredible hardship in order to continue her participation in intercollegiate athletics and to inspire her teammates and competitors. She also has a strong desire to give back, especially as she has felt so much support from the Washington State community throughout her time in Pullman.
Rosen will graduate in the fall of 2017 with a degree in mechanical engineering, which she plans to use to develop and improve medical devices such as her own ICD to help others with similar conditions.
“It is very humbling and I feel honored to be recognized by the Pac-12 Conference for such an incredible award,” Rosen said. “I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, the Washington State Athletic Department, Dr. Michael J. Ackerman, and of course my family. I would not have been where I am today without their never-ending support and belief in me. I am forever thankful for the people who got me back to being able to do what I love and live the life I want. I hope my story can inspire others to fight and not let setbacks be the end of their journey.”
The Sportsmanship Award is selected by members of the Pac-12 SAAC and is based on good sportsmanship and ethical behavior in participation of intercollegiate athletics, as well as a demonstration of good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Nominees must have demonstrated the values of respect and integrity through a specific action. The student-athlete must have consistently demonstrated the values of respect and integrity in his or her daily participation in intercollegiate athletics. Conference award winners are then nominated for the NCAA Division I Sportsmanship Award.
The OREGON women’s soccer team and the OREGON football team were also nominated for this year’s Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award.
Previous Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award winners:
2004 Grayling Love, Arizona State
2005 Channing Frye, Arizona; Cara Chlebicki, California
2006 Eric Nygard, Washington State; Anna Key, California
2007 Mitch Canham, Oregon State; Jennifer Tangtiphaiboontana, Stanford
2008 Michael Capbarat, California; Arianna Lambie, Stanford
2009 Stenn Parton, USC; Lindsey Kelley, Arizona
2010 Ben Ashmore, Arizona State; Stanford women’s rowing team
2011 Jeff Gudaitis, Washington; Katie Matusik, Arizona
2012 Bryson Beirne, Arizona; Brittany Hart, Oregon
2013 Kylie Sharp, Washington
2014 University of Colorado Student-Athletes
2015 UCLA women’s gymnastics team
2016 Riley Sorenson, Washington State
2017 Anna Rosen, Washington State