International Women’s Day Sees Strong Women With Strong Performances

Photo Courtesy: Grace Nordquist 03/08/2019

By Grace Nordquist, Swimming World College Intern.

DES MOINES, Iowa —  The third night of the 2019 TYR Pro Swim Series meet in Des Moines saw many of the biggest names in women’s swimming in the pool on International Women’s Day.

Female swimmers from around the world competed against each other, but also together, pushing and encouraging one another, leaving their legacy for the next generation.

As the sport of swimming grows, younger swimmers everywhere are looking to strong women role models in the sport. Some of those swimmers leading the field Friday were Kathleen Baker, Kelsi Dahlia and Allison Schmitt.

Schmitt, the current American and U.S. open record holder in the 200 free, touched first in a time of 1:57.70 on Friday. The 1:57.70 may seem far from her 1:53.61 American record set in 2012, but the swimmer has come a long way since then. Battling with depression, and almost giving up on the sport of swimming, Schmitt is back in the water and enjoying competing again. Her story, and advocacy for mental health, has been inspiration to athletes everywhere.

2019 TYR Pro Series-Women-Dive

Photo Courtesy: Grace Nordquist

Schmitt has embraced the role of being a role model for younger female swimmers.

“I think it’s awesome to have this opportunity,” she said.

Just as previous women paved the way for her to be able to swim professionally, Schmitt says she wants to do the same for girls in the future.

Baker also touched first on Friday, winning the 200 back clocking in at 2:08.08.

“[I’ve] Definitely been feeling a lot more powerful in the water,” she said.

Not only is she powerful in the water, but impacting younger swimmers in a powerful way outside of the water as well. Baker, sharing her story of her battle with Crohn’s disease, has inspired younger swimmers and athletes everywhere battling severe medical issues. .

Baker remembers the imprint older athletes and coaches left on her and wants to do the same for younger generations.

“It’s amazing but there’s been so many athletes before me that were my role models.”

She says her coach Teri McKeever was one of those role models, commenting on her confidence as a female college coach and what she’s done with the sport. Baker also comments on being surrounded with strong and powerful women who, “Aren’t afraid to get out there and race…is really incredible.”

Pro-Series-Kelsi-Dahlia copy

Photo Courtesy: Grace Nordquist

Dahlia, current American Record holder in the 50 fly, took second in a time of 25.87. Dahlia says she was happy to be under 26 seconds.

When it comes to being a role model for younger female athletes Dahlia admits it’s a surreal feeling.

“Well its weird to think of myself as a role model,” she said. Dahlia said she feels like she was that little girl just yesterday. That little girl has grown up and claimed her spot on the U.S. national team. Dahlia notes it has helped her embrace being a role model the longer she’s been on the team.

As these women continue to compete, younger swimmers will continue to watch and learn from their journeys and what’s shaped them into the women they are today. They’re growing the sport of swimming and paving the way for the next generation of strong female swimmers.

Commentary: All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. Daniel Smith

    Way to go Shmitty!?? Allison Schmitt??

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