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‘It’s really paid off’

Albert Lea swimming standout continues career overseas

 

Albert Lea graduate Lindsey (Horejsi) Kozelsky has made her way back into the pool, swimming competitively for the first time since the Big Ten Championships in February. Now swimming professionally for the DC Trident in the International Swimming League, Kozelsky is swimming in the league’s second season in Budapest, Hungary.

After having the NCAA championships in her senior year at the University of Minnesota canceled and the 2020 Olympic trials delayed because of COVID-19, Kozelsky said she wasn’t sure when the next time she would be able to swim competitively was going to come.

“Once trials got canceled, I was just looking at if I wanted to continue swimming,” Kozelsky said. “Just because of all of the work that had been put in leading up to NCAAs and then to get the rug pulled out from under me, underneath a lot of swimmers and athletes, I was just unsure if I wanted to continue training.

“I still loved swimming, but with my husband and I wanting to kind of settle down. Was it reasonable for me to want to keep swimming?”

Kozelsky said she felt like swimming was unfinished for her and made the decision to continue to pursue training for the delayed Olympic Trials. Spending time and doing light training in North Carolina where her husband, William, is stationed, Kozelsky was contacted by Cyndi Gallagher, head coach of the DC Trident.

After joining the team, Kozelsky learned swimmers could train for the season where they felt most comfortable. For her it was no question; Kozelsky headed back to Minneapolis in September to train with her long-time head coach at the University of Minnesota, Kelly Kremer.

“That was hard,” she said. “Being with my husband from March to September and finally having that time together, then being like ‘OK, we’re going to transition one more time and make this long-distance thing work for a little bit longer.’ But it was great to get back into the routine of training.”

She said there were a lot of differences she noticed between swimming professionally and swimming in college. Kozelsky said in college she always had coursework and classes to focus on, whereas professionally, she had a lot more time to focus on her training.

Kozelsky tried teaching privately for a handful of families when she first got back to Minneapolis, but with the COVID restrictions on pool times, she said it added too much stress.

Lindsey (Horejsi) Kozelsky, pictured by Fountain Lake in summer 2016. After missing out on her senior NCAA tournament and this year’s Olympic Trials due to the pandemic, she is now swimming overseas. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

“I felt like I needed to choose either swimming right now or teaching,” Kozelsky said. “Hopefully teaching will always be there for me, but this is kind of my window for swimming and I need to allocate all my time and efforts into swimming right now, and it’s really paid off.”

Kozelsky left for Budapest at the beginning of October to compete in the second season of the ISL. Having never traveled outside of the United States, she said the transition was tough, but she got through it quickly thanks to some tips from some of her teammates.

After many months of training, Kozelsky was finally able to compete in the pool once again.

“Training again and racing has been great,” she said. “You don’t realize how nice it is to race again until you’ve been away from it for like eight months.”

Kozelsky and the DC Trident have competed against nine other teams in the ISL, and Kozelsky said she has been happy with how she has performed. As of press time it was uncertain as to whether the DC Trident would make it to the semifinals of the competition. If the team does not make the finals, Kozelsky will head back to the U.S. soon, but if the team does make the semifinals, her return home will come closer to Thanksgiving.

The matches in the ISL are broadcast on CBS Sports Network and the semifinals are set for Nov. 14 through Nov. 16 and the finals will be Nov. 21 and Nov. 22.

Despite losing the chance to go to NCAAs and the Olympic Trials in the same year, Kozelsky said this opportunity could be a blessing in disguise.

“I would have gone for trials in June if COVID hadn’t happened,” Kozelsky said. “But last year was really stressful for me, being in my masters program and swimming my senior year of collegiate eligibility. Full-time student teaching, being in masters courses and swimming was a lot.

“Coach Kelly and I talked about what a great opportunity this is, this extra year to just dedicate myself to the sport and to really see what I can do.”

The swim trials for the 2021 Olympics are slated for June 13 through June 20, 2021, in Omaha, Nebraska.

Lindsey (Horejsi) Kozelsky pauses to celebrate after breaking the national high school record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 58.56 seconds in 2015 in the girls’ Class A state swimming prelims at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

 

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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