PHOENIX, Arizona, January 25. DAGNY Knutson is stepping away from the pool once again, about a year after she first took time off to treat an eating disorder that was affecting her swimming performance.
In an article published today by The New York Times, Knutson stated that losing her stipend from USA Swimming was putting a toll on her and her family. Because Knutson had been out of the world rankings for so long, she was ineligible to receive any assistance from USA Swimming. The Knutson life savings account was being depleted to fund Dagny's training in North Dakota.
Knutson sent a text message to her longtime coach Kathy Aspaas about three weeks ago, saying “Don't come to the pool. I won't be there anymore.”
When asked today by Swimming World if the report of her break from swimming was true, Knutson said, “Yeah, for now anyway.”
Knutson first went public about her struggles to remain an elite swimmer while tackling an eating disorder in a comprehensive article by Swimming World's Shoshanna Rutemiller last August. Around that time, Knutson was working on a return to training, and after about two months of serious training, Knutson won the 200 IM at the Minneapolis Grand Prix. Though Arena's partnership with USA Swimming created a grandfather clause that gave prize money to podium finishers in Minneapolis, a check for $1,100 was likely not going to be enough to keep Knutson in the pool.
Also discouraging was her performances at the USA Swimming nationals in December, in which she failed to qualify for the championship finals. According to The New York Times, Knutson's decision to step away came at the start of a new college semester.
“I feel like there's a point where it's time to move on with my life instead of trying to keep hanging on,” she said.
Knutson, who turned 21 last Friday, is attending Bismarck State College, with plans to attend the University of Mary in the fall.
Whether her break is temporary or permanent, Knutson's legacy in the sport is lasting. She was voted Female High School Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine in 2009 and 2010 on the strength of national high school records broken in those years. She still owns the overall national high school records in the 100 free, 200 free and 200 IM, and the public national high school record in the 500 free.