St. Cloud State Swim Captain Marena Kouba Saves Family of Three from Drowning

Photo Courtesy: Craig Lord

Marena Kouba sensed something wasn’t right Sunday. Kouba, a captain of the swimming team at St. Cloud State in Minnesota, and her boyfriend Dayton Nash spent the day in Michigan at Lake Superior.

While swimming across a thin portion of the lake to reach Little Presque Island, they noticed a man and two kids swimming in the lake and appearing to get into trouble in the current near.

“Prior to going out there, we had seen this uncle and the two kids (10-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy),” Nash told the St. Cloud Times Thursday. “We kept an eye on them and slowly saw them get farther and farther out. I kept an eye on them because something didn’t feel right.”


Marena Kouba

When the kids started screaming for help, Kouba swam out to save them, bringing them back to shore, while Nash swam off for help. Kobua swam some 200 yards to the kids and their uncle, helped bring them together after the tides separated them and calmed them down to float on their backs while she guided them back into shore.

“I started paddling with one arm and was kicking with both legs,” Kouba said. “I was holding my other arm to the uncle and niece. The little kids were really scared, but they cooperated. I’m just happy we were able to get everyone back safely.”

Nash, who admits he’s not a strong swimmer, summoned the Coast Guard, which arrived some minutes later, after Kouba had brought the family back to shore.

“I’m very thankful that it was her that was there; if it was anyone else in a different position going out there, it might have been a totally different story,” Nash said. “I just feel like we’re lucky that it was her, and that she knew she’d be able to do it. She was able to get them all back safely.”

Marena Kouba, a native of Sartell, Minn., is a senior communication studies major. A CSCAA Scholar All-American, she’s a versatile swimmer who has grown into a backstroker/IMer. She had the Huskies’ fastest time in the 100 back this year and led off the team’s quickest 200 and 400 medley relays.

“She didn’t think about herself, she didn’t hesitate, she didn’t think what was best for her, she just knew that she had to help somebody else and somebody else was in need and she did that, and I think that’s the true sign of a leader and a captain,” SCSU head coach Jeff Hegle told

Read the full story here.


  1. avatar
    TIDE Mom

    Well done! She’s a hero!

    • Bill Saxton

      My claim to fame is that I wrote a few practices for Marena.

  2. Jeff Meemken

    Thank you Bill for your wonderful service you provide??

  3. avatar
    Janie Barkman Brown..1968/1972

    Way to go, Marena and Dayton!