Getting to Know First-Time NCAA Division I Men’s Qualifiers: Missouri State’s Uvis Kalnins

Photo Courtesy: Missouri State Athletics

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri, March 17. AFTER a week of highlighting first-time NCAA qualifiers for the women’s swimming and diving championships, we’re starting to feature some of the men who will be racing at the biggest meet of the season for the first time. Our daily series of Q&A articles continues through March 26.

Name: Uvis Kalnins
Year, school: Sophomore, Missouri State
Events he’ll swim: 200 IM, 400 IM, 100 free

Swimming World: Congratulations on qualifying for the NCAA championships! You helped make history with Paul Le to give Missouri State two NCAA qualifiers in one year. How does it feel to be invited to go to the meet?

Uvis Kalnins: Thank you! I am very happy and proud to have a chance to represent my school and also my country in NCAA championships. As far as I know, I am the first Latvian swimmer who has made D-I NCAA championships.

SW: You swam the 100 free in the Olympics, which is obviously a very big meet. What did you learn from your experience in London that you will use at the NCAAs?

Kalnins: Be calm and believe in yourself. Without confidence, it is very hard to do well. The main thing I will need to focus on is avoiding overthinking things.

SW: When you swam your 1:44.69 in the 200 IM at the Mid-American Championships, how confident were you that the time would get you into the NCAA championships?

Kalnins: I knew that 1:45.0 made it last year, but throughout the season, while following up the results, I understood that this year the cut will be faster. I was ranked 29th after that night (at conference), and since 29 made it back last year, I was 99 percent sure that I would be going.

SW: How did you find out you made the meet?

Kalnins: It was during Wednesday afternoon’s practice when coach Dave Collins told me.

SW: You’re also swimming the 400 IM and the 100 free, making for a very diverse schedule. How are you dividing your time in training to make sure you’re devoting enough time to each event?

Kalnins: Actually I think it is pretty easy. The warm-up is usually done in freestyle, so that allows me to focus on improving my stroke. When it is time for a main set I try to divide (the four strokes) by 20-20-20-40 (while) allowing myself to practice the main portion in freestyle.

Also during my time in training here at MSU we implement practices that focus on a certain stroke, sprint or distance.

SW: Last year, you focused mostly on freestyle, earning NCAA B cuts in the 200 and 500 freestyles. What prompted the switch to the IM events?

Kalnins: I posted some decent times in the IM events my freshman year, thus me and the coach decided to give it a shot this year. And I think we made a great choice.

SW: What meet(s) are you looking forward to in the long course season?

Kalnins: I have my nationals at the end of May and beginning of July, where I will try to improve my long-course achievements.

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the host of several shows on SwimmingWorld.TV, including "The Morning Swim Show," which features interviews with people making headlines in aquatic sports. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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