Published: Jan 12, 2010
When former University of Tampa swimmer Aleksander Hetland finished his
race at the 2009 European Short Course Swimming Championships, he looked
up at the clock and was stunned to see he had grabbed the gold.
was in awe. I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it was me,”
said Hetland, a UT graduate student who still trains with the UT swim
team. “I was hoping to get another medal, but I wasn’t prepared for
being number one.”
Hetland had earned a bronze in 2006 and
silvers in 2007 and 2008, swimming like he did in this year’s Dec. 12
championships in Istanbul, Turkey, for his home country of Norway.
Reaching the benchmark gold he said gave validation to the sweat and
sacrifice that it took over the years to get to that achievement.
was standing up there on the podium with all these people I’ve looked
up to. I was so fortunate to reach that,” said Hetland who completed the
50-meter breaststroke in 26.19 seconds. “That was a really strong
moment for me.”
Hetland earned his business degree in three
years from Southern Methodist University in Dallas before coming to UT
for the graduate business program. Since he still had a year of NCAA
eligibility, he joined the UT swim team and competed in the ’08-’09
season. For his second year of grad school, he continues to train with
the team and help out when he can. He hopes to graduate with his MBA in
“Alex is far and away the most talented breaststroker I
have ever had the pleasure to coach. I’ve learned as much as I’ve
taught,” said Ed Brennan, UT’s head swim coach. “With Alex it was a
collaboration. He had a great deal of latitude and input into his
training. In fact it was really like having another coach in the pool.”
UT swim career includes a school record in the 100-meter breaststroke,
100-meter butterfly and 200-meter individual medley, and was part of the
200-meter and 400-meter medley relay teams that set a new UT record.
Hetland earned the NCAA individual national championship in 2009 in the
200-meter individual medley and 100-meter breaststroke.
not easy but it’s fun,” Hetland said. “I’ve had success far beyond my
expectations, and I have the coaches to thank for it.”
said he chose UT for the academic experience and has been delighted to
find a fit on the swim team. As one of the older members, Hetland said
Brennan gives him more freedom and tailors the program for Hetland’s
“It’s been more of a partnership which has been really great,” Hetland said.
he graduates, Hetland said he’ll focus on his business career which has
taken the backburner due to his swimming. Making that decision,
especially when he’s surpassed all of the swim goals he has set for
himself, is difficult. The FINA World Swimming Championships in Dubai in
December and then maybe the London 2012 Olympic Games are seeming more
within reach than he had considered before.
“I try to take just
one step at a time,” Hetland said. “I love the goal setting and
individual competition of swimming. In the end, you’re working toward
meeting that goal, making something greater of yourself. It’s always
been my way to just be the best that I can be.”Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
Sign up for UT Web Alerts