Ohio State’s Morgan Kraus Making Most of Training With Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics

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Ohio State's Morgan Kraus. Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

Morgan Kraus was ready to build off of a successful freshman season and help Ohio State defend its Big Ten championship.

Now, she can’t even train with her team. In fact, she isn’t even in the same state, training with Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics for a hopefully short time.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Big Ten teams are just getting back to their home pools as pools in each state begin to open.

While COVID concerns were heavy on campus as school began — and the virus remains a concern — the rate of cases on campus is trending downward.

Kraus is from Rockford, Michigan, and is still making a nearly hour-long drive to MLA in Holland.

“You can’t find anywhere better to swim in Michigan right now. This is the place to be,” Kraus told Swimming World. “It has been very difficult. As a swimmer, you are used to a regimen and schedule, and the past six months has been the complete opposite. Trying to adapt to that has been challenging.”

Especially given the challenges of COVID-19 and not everyone following rules.

“Social distancing and wearing masks. That is why we do it, to get things back that we love in life,” she said. “It is really difficult to swallow when people that you know and love are not wearing masks. We all are on the same page and want the same thing and willing to fight for our season, so let’s fight in the same way.”

But Kraus has found a temporary home at MLA, swimming alongside U.S. national champion Devon Nowicki, All-American Cameron Craig, trials qualifier Kyle Maas as well as a group of other Division I college athletes in similar situations.

MLA coach Jim Whitehead fondly refers to his team as the “Island of Misfit Toys.”

“As far as her situation at school, that is what pretty much every place is dealing with. She is at a major program and they can’t even get in the water,” Whitehead told Swimming World. “If I could have 20 of her, I would love it. Talk about an instant impact on a team. I thought she was quiet and reaching out to our girls making sure they were getting to know our new girl and they already had.”

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Morgan Kraus; Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

Kraus is enjoying the experience of swimming with a new group of elite swimmers.

“It just makes me much more grateful for being able to be in a pool and train with a group like this. With COVID giving us these setbacks, it does make me grateful for every opportunity to get in the water. That is the perspective I am trying to have,” Kraus said. “It is difficult to see your teammates, who you care about a lot, then not see them. We have been staying in a lot of contact with one another, so that has been helpful.

“It has been nice to have a group of college students, even if they don’t go to my school. It is such a good opportunity to swim with people you don’t normally swim with — especially swimmers of this caliber. You don’t find a group so deeply and intrinsically motivated anywhere. You don’t just stumble across that.”

Kraus is looking to build off of a solid freshman season.

“It was a very challenging freshman season. I loved it. I have never learned more about myself in a year,” she said. “We won a Big Ten championship, which was incredible. What more could you ask for out of a freshman season. It was an amazing experience.”

Kraus swims the 100 and 200 backstroke events as well as the 100 butterfly.

She was out of the pool for a good chunk of the summer, like most were in the pandemic, but didn’t stop working.

“This summer, before indoor pools were open in Michigan, you had to squeeze out every second. We did a lot of drill work and a lot of underwater based stuff has been big,” Morgan Kraus said. “I have been trying to lift a ton just to build my base strength and that really does make a huge difference in my training.”

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