Swimternational with German Olympian Theresa Michalak

Photo Courtesy: Theresa Michalak

by Mariana de Paula, Swimming World College Intern

Imagine waking up in over 30 different countries, checking in at over 200 different hotels, and swimming in more than 200 different waters – all in less than 20 years. That is the life of Theresa Michalak, a German swimmer who left her family and her life behind to pursue her dream of training in the U.S.

It’s fair to stay Michalak was always talented. She discovered her love for swimming at a very early age and decided to pursue a career in it.

“Swimming is not just a sport to me; it is my shelter and a place I love to feel comfortable in. The remarkable silence underwater is nowhere else to be found, and that’s why I fell in love with it,” Michalak said. She was never the tallest, the strongest, the fastest or the bravest one among her group, but she definitely wanted it the most. And this mindset took her places she never expected.

Michalak was the 2011 European Champion in the 100 SCM IM at just 19 years old.  Her career exploded and success was just a consequence of her effort. There was never a day she stopped believing in her potential.

Through pain, tears, loss, and will, she achieved the highest goal on every athlete’s list– she became an Olympian.


Photo Courtesy: Petko Beier

“The feeling of walking onto the block while being watched from over 20,000 people on the sides, and even more on TVs is, to be honest, a little scary and intimidating,” she said. “But on the other side, you are a little percentage of people who have a special talent to even be there. You are something special in this big world.”

Theresa Michalak placed 12th in the 200 IM at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and participated on the 4×200 freestyle relay. “Ever since then, I was “hungry” for more than just becoming 12th at the Olympics.” So she made a decision. According to her, that was the moment she has decided to step up her career and move to the U.S.

Since then, Theresa follows her dream while pursuing a college degree. Not only has this choice improved her career both professionally and athletically, but she also shows every day how this has helped her to grow as a human being. As a swimmer, she has achieved SEC title, First Team All-SEC and NCAA Division I qualifications, among other major accomplishments.

Thea, how she likes to be called, has never tried to hide her smile. Even while going through the hardest practices, she manages to make everyone around her as grateful as she is just to be there. She claims that from all of the things swimming has given her, there is nothing like the experience, and shares her favorite part of being an athlete– “Traveling, exploring new cultures, and learning from people I would never guessed to meet are marks that shaped the person I am today,” Thea said.

Michalak is currently training for her Olympic Trials, the 2016 German National Championships, which will be held from May 5-8. And her dreams only get bigger.

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6 years ago

Klara Marie