Amanda Thielen made SVSU swimming and diving history on March 11.
On that day, the sophomore finished in eighth place in the 200-yard backstroke at the 2017 NCAA Division II Championships, earning All-American honors.
“I am very honored and excited to know that I’ve accomplished such an outstanding achievement at this point in my swimming career,” Thielen said. “Reaching the high goals I have set for myself serves as motivation for the future of my career.”
The Fenton native was recruited to SVSU by head coach Bruce Zimmerman as part of the 2015 recruiting class. Thielen felt right at home at Saginaw Valley.
“SVSU has, in my opinion, some of the best facilities available,” Thielen said. “I love the smaller and more individualistic campus size. (Zimmerman) stayed in close contact with me throughout the recruiting process, and it was evident that he was committed to helping me further my athletic and academic careers.”
In just her first season at the collegiate level, Thielen was named All-American honorable mention in the 100-yard backstroke at the 2016 NCAA Division II Championships.
This year, her time of 2:02.42 in the 200-yard backstroke earned her the highest placing in program history. She was also named All-American Honorable-Mention in the 100-yard backstroke.
“I believe the experience Amanda had last year as a freshman at the NCAA Championships helped her this year,” Zimmerman said. “Knowing what to expect allowed her to be more relaxed, and that paid off with her swimming career-best times at this year’s championships.”
Teammate Lydia Mattar echoed Zimmerman. The sophomore also added that Thielen’s success in the pool motivates the team to reach higher.
“It’s awesome to have someone on our team become an All-American,” Mattar said. “I think it will inspire the team and push us to all try and reach that goal. We are all very proud of Amanda.”
Thielen credits her self-motivation for accomplishing her goals. The women’s team finished just its third season as a program, and the men’s team just wrapped up its second. Both programs are relatively young and have limited experience at the Championships.
“The main way I’ve changed in these past two years has to do with motivating others,” Thielen said. “I feel that I’m a strongly self-motivated individual, and I think it should be passed on to others for the benefit of the team. As a team, I feel that each year, we get closer. If one of us is hurting, we are all hurting. It’s a great support system that’s only getting stronger.”
After achieving historical success early in her college career, Thielen is looking to set even bigger goals for herself in the upcoming season.
“I set high goals for myself during my freshman year, but I never imagined reaching this level just one year later,” she said. “I’m excited and very motivated to look ahead and set even bigger goals for myself.”