Meet Swimming World’s School Year Journalism Interns, Class of 2018-19

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

During the 2018-19 school year, Swimming World worked with 20+ journalism interns to cover meets, stories and events across the globe! They did a fantastic job of expanding our reach into the aquatic world we love so much. From water polo stars to the emerging sport of ice swimming, our inquisitive interns challenged themselves to learn and spread awareness of the inspiring stories and events taking place around the globe.

Take some time to get to know the faces and lives behind the articles you’ve enjoyed this year, and learn about some exciting opportunities to work with us!

*Please e-mail Kristy Kinzer at if you’re interested in writing for us this upcoming summer!

1. Olivia McKelvey


Photo Courtesy: Liv Mckelvey

Olivia is from Saline, Mich. and has been swimming at the elite level for numerous years. She is a junior at Florida Tech where she is majoring in marketing, minoring in communications, and is a proud member of the swim team. Olivia excels in distance freestyle, specializing mainly in the 1,000 and 1,650-yard freestyle.

Read Olivia’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: “Breast Cancer Took My Mother’s Life”: A Battle That Goes Beyond the Racing Blocks

2. Taylor Covington


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Covington

“This internship helped me explore the sport in a way I never thought possible. I’ve made terrific friends along the way, and I’ve also been able to connect with myself as both an athlete and writer. I found myself constantly being challenged to interpret the sport from new and different perspectives, a sport I thought I already knew like the back of my hand. I shared personal stories and personal advice, and by confronting those things that challenged me most as an athlete person, I felt fulfilled and grateful. I’ve also had the chance to meet some of the most incredible people and athletes I have ever met, and I never imagined that this job would become such a special part of my life. The readers and staff at Swimming World are so precious, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity this internship has afforded me.”

3. Emily Thirion


Photo Courtesy: Emily Thirion

Emily was born and raised in a swim family in Warren, Ohio. She is currently a senior sprinter for Duquesne University and double majoring in English and education.

“This internship has provided me the opportunity to collaborate with my swimming contemporaries from different universities across the country. I have been able to sharpen and hone my writing skills in a professional setting. Through this internship, I have been given the chance to interview and cover a variety of coaches, programs, and technical aspects of training. All in all, it was an awesome experience!”

Read Emily’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: Q&A with Dave Sheets on Building a Championship Program

4. Kaylie Williams


Photo Courtesy: Kaylie Williams

Kaylie is a sophomore at Beloit College pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history with minors in English and environmental studies. She is originally from Kelseyville, California but lives in Beloit, Wisconsin where she attends school and swims for the Beloit College Swim and Dive team.

“I value my opportunity to write for Swimming World because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to grow my writing skills and work with other amazing interns. I feel very lucky to have been given a chance to share my writing not only with the rest of the writers and interns at Swimming World, but also the greater following of Swimming World readers. I never thought I would be publishing and sharing my work with such a vast audience, so I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to do so!”

Read Kaylie’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: From Past to Present: The Evolution and History of Olympic Swimming

5. Kelsey Mitchell


Photo Courtesy: Kelsey Mitchell

Kelsey is a junior at Lake Forest College. She is an English major with minors in publishing and digital media. She plans on going into elementary education.
“This internship really helped me get a start in the world of professional writing. I have always enjoyed writing, but this internship really helped me to improve my writing while also allowing me to create samples I can use in a professional portfolio. This internship also allowed me to connect with many people, from book authors, to coaches and other college swimmers from all over the country! It was a truly wonderful experience, and I would recommend this internship to anyone who loves swimming and writing.”

Read Kelsey’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: 5 Books Every Swimmer Should Read

6. Jamie Kolar


Photo Courtesy: Jamie Kolar

Jamie has been in love swimming ever since she could pick up the diving brick off the bottom of the pool. She is a multiple state record holder in Illinois as well as a 2016 Olympic Trial qualifier. She is currently a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and is studying interdisciplinary health sciences with a minor in business.

“How does one describe something that has meant so much to them? Being a Swimming World college intern has been a experience of a lifetime. I find myself looking at a picture in one direction, but writing about something that I love so much has allowed me to have a new perspective. Writing about swimming has allowed me to see things from a few different angles now, which have allowed me to deepen my love for something that I already had given my heart and soul to, if that is even possible. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to write for Swimming World and hope that my writing has helped one other person to the level that it has helped me.”

Read Jamie’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: The Debt That All Swimmers Owe

7. Grace Nordquist


Photo Courtesy: Grace Nordquist

Grace is a junior at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. She is a mass communication major with an emphasis in corporate communication. Prior to Morningside, she attended Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in 2018. Originally from Panora, Iowa, she graduated from Panorama High School in 2016. Distance free and butterfly are her specialties, and she competes in the NAIA with Morningside. Aside from swimming, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, volunteering, shooting photography, working out, watching movies and trying new restaurants.

Read Grace’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: NAIA National Champion Suzanna Gonzalez on the Transition from Swimmer to Swammer

8. McKenna Ehrmantraut


Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

McKenna is a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. In the pool, she is a distance freestyler and backstroker. She is majoring in English and communications with a passion for the written word. She’s looking forward to spending the fall semester in London focusing on her journalism internship and traveling across Europe.

McKenna’s favorite stories this school year were from her live coverage of the Women’s PAC 12 Championships: Cal Relays Build Toward NCAAs with Sweet at PAC 12 Championships

9. Lianne McCluskey


Photo Courtesy: Lianne McCluskey

Lianne is a graduate assistant swim coach at Smith College studying exercise and sports studies. She has been coaching for three years – one year as an assistant coach at Nitro Swimming and two years as head coach of the Penobscot Bay Y Sailfish. She is a former competitive swimmer, graduating as a student-athlete from La Salle University with a bachelor’s degree in communication and journalism.

“This internship is a great opportunity to get behind the scenes and not only share your own research and experiences, but also dig deeper into what makes this such a incredible sport. You get to actively learn and enjoy the creative writing of your fellow interns. You also become more educated in the editing and compiling process of current events in competitive swimming and diving, which has been an enlightening process to go through.”

Read Lianne’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: The Struggle is Real: Burnout in Competitive Swimming

10. Taylor Byers


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Byers

Taylor is a senior at Arcadia University majoring in actuarial science and minoring in business administration. She competes in the breaststroke and IM events for this NCAA Division III program. Taylor loves the outdoors and hiking; however, when it comes to swimming, she is a huge nerd and loves watching and following all the big meets.
“This internship showed me that swimming has a lot of different aspects to it and is such a complex sport that goes beyond practice and meets. It helped me improve my journalism skills while writing about a concept I love. A valuable aspect of this internship is connecting with people throughout the swimming world through interviews or email as well as connecting with the other interns in this program.”
Read Taylor’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: The Truth About Lactate Threshold

11. Kate Santilena


Photo Courtesy: Kate Santilena

Kate is currently a graduate student at the University of Hawaii earning a Master’s degree in kinesiology and rehabilitation sciences. She swam at both her undergraduate school, San Diego State University, and graduate school, the University of Hawaii, throughout her fours years of division one eligibility specializing in backstroke and sprint butterfly.

“I really enjoyed writing a lot of my stories and delving further into the sport of swimming besides having the common athlete perspective. However, I would say my favorite article to write was What is the Most Difficult Race in Swimming, because it debated some of the hardest races the sport has to offer and had some comical twists that I hoped my readers could relate to. I know I did.”

12. Courtney Mykkanen


Photo Courtesy: Courtney Mykkanen

Courtney pushed herself out of her comfort zone this school year by covering a diverse range of topics and interviewing high profile athletes.

“This internship has been an amazing opportunity to build on my passion beyond just the swimming pool. From conducting an interview with Olympic medalist, Ryan Murphy, to writing articles about recruiting, mental toughness, nutrition, swim camps and many more, I have expanded my own swimming knowledge while providing new perspectives to the Swimming World community.”

Read Courtney’s favorite story she wrote this year by clicking here: 4 TED Talks Every Swimmer Should Watch

13. Devin Javens


Photo Courtesy: Devin Javens

Devin is from Hermitage, Pa., and is the daughter of Chad and Amy Javens. She is a student a Denison University where she studies English and education. She is also a part of the Denison University Women’s Swim and Dive Team.

“This internship has provided me with many opportunities to research and discuss various aspects of the sport of swimming. I’ve truly enjoyed learning more about swimming through my fellow interns’ stories and through my own research. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to become involved in event coverage and become connected with various workers of Swimming World. I think this internship is broadened my own horizons through the connections I have been able to make and the experience it provides for interns.”

14. Maggie Lasto


Photo Courtesy: Maggie Lasto

Maggie grew up in Orange, Conn. with her father, mother, older sister, Mollee, and twin sister Megan. She began swimming at the age of two, competed as a member of Amity Regional Aquatic Club and Amity High School, and is currently on the Eastern Connecticut State University Swim Team. In addition to swimming at Eastern, she is majoring in illustration and minoring in writing.

“Through this internship, I have learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined. The experience has taught me not only about who I am as a swimmer, but also as a student, friend, and teammate. In my search for topic ideas, I realized that the swimming world is more connected than I imagined, and that the aspects of the sport that interest me are shared by many. By working with the other interns and staff members, and reading their articles, I have gained a new swimming perspective and an excitement that has motivated me and helped me succeed throughout my season. I have learned valuable lessons about the art of writing/journalism, as well as all the hard work that goes into the making of an online publication. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such an incredible experience.”

15. Xonzy Gaddis


Photo Courtesy: Xonzy Gaddis

Xonzy is a first year from Houston, Texas, attending Grinnell College and is majoring in Political Science. When Xonzy is not in the pool, she can be found coaching the Grinnell TigerSharks, running and cooking.

“When I first started this internship, I knew right off the bat I made the decision to combine the two things I love into one: swimming and writing. Through this internship, I gained vital writing and editing skills while being able to let others know how strongly I feel about the sport. Additionally, this internship allowed me to find balance in life with extracurriculars and academics. Thankfully, this internship gave me space to challenge myself in many ways I did not expect yet I found myself growing through this experience and I continue to do so.”

16. Mark McCluskey


Photo Courtesy: Mark McCluskey

Mark is a graduating senior at Howard University who just wrapped up a 17-year swimming career. He swam all four years at Howard, specializing in sprint freestyle and butterfly. His major is television and film, and he is hoping to have a job in the industry after graduation. His favorite article that he wrote for Swimming World is “Howard University Fighting the Oldest Myth in Swimming,” because he got the chance to write about his team and the amazing things they are doing for the community.

17. Isabelle Robuck


Photo Courtesy: Isabelle Robuck

“In February, I wrapped up my 15-year-long swimming career – such a bittersweet moment! Soon, I will be graduating from UNO with a bachelor’s in exercise science and a minor in journalism. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me as I move forward! This internship was such a wonderful experience for me. I’ve loved gaining so much confidence in my ability to write, and I’ve loved getting to know the other interns. Of course, a big thank you to Swimming World‘s fan base for always being active and giving great feedback!”

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Amy Bilquist
5 years ago

Yeahhhhh Courtney!!!!!

Linda K. Davison
5 years ago

Kaylie, So proud of you. Love Gramme and Bob

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