As if being a full-time honors student and athlete while holding a part-time job wasn’t enough, Emma Svensson is also a junior captain of the Florida Gulf Coast University swimming and diving team.
Her accomplishments and success during the past three years prove her leadership capabilities. She was named Coastal Collegiate Swimming Associating Swimmer of the Week recently for the eighth time in her career. The well-deserved honor came as a result of Svensson’s performance against Florida State University with four top-three finishes; one of them was winning the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 55.48 seconds.
Adding to her resume, Svensson holds four individual FGCU program records and one conference record, was named 2013 CCSA Swimmer of the Year, and while competing in last year’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, she received the Elite 89 award. The Elite 89 is presented to the student athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships. As a sophomore, Svensson received three CCSA weekly awards after leading the conference her freshman year, earning four.
Svensson is from Uppsala, Sweden, which is about an hour north of Stockholm, the capital.
“It is a college town with a lot of things going on for people in my age, especially in the summers when the weather is nice and people come out to enjoy the sun that we don’t see too much of during the winter,” Svensson said. “When I lived in Uppsala, I spent the little free time I had, when not swimming or studying, with my friends.”
Svensson began her swimming career around the age of 7. “My best friend’s mother got her to start swimming because her mother used to be a very successful swimmer. I was annoyed that my friend couldn’t hang out with me every day, so eventually I started to come with her to practice and soon enough I was in the group swimming as well,” Svensson said. “The sad part of the story is that my friend didn’t like swimming too much so she quit, but I loved it and kept training.”
This year, Svensson has posted three team season-bests with times of 23.45 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle, 51 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle and 1:42.97 as a member of the 200-yard medley relay team.
“I love any race where you can go all out from start to finish, which is why I swim the short sprint freestyle and backstroke,” Svensson said. “What I love about swimming is that you compete against yourself and your own times, and it is easy to see improvement through your times.”
In her academic career, Svensson is planning on double majoring in economics and finance with a minor in math.
“I am not sure exactly where I am heading, but I am interested in behavioral economics, and of course sports, so something that could combine those two would be ideal,” Svensson said.
She plans on staying at FGCU for a fifth year to finish her second major and continue to train.
“My four-year graduation would have been spring 2015, so staying an extra year on campus will give me the chance to train for the Swedish Olympic trials that will be in spring 2016,” Svensson said. “After 2016, I want to stay in America and go to grad school over here, but so many things can happen before then that might make me change my mind. I like to live in the present and not worry too much.”
Svensson’s first visit to America was her recruiting trip to FGCU.
“Fort Myers and Florida in general is so pretty, and I really try to tell myself everyday how lucky I am to have ended up living here,” Svensson said. “I love how people are so open and willing to share their stories. I am also really amazed by the way local communities come together here and plan out events with volunteers working and people supporting each other.”
In Sweden, Svensson trained with a club team, but she said that everything she did was very individual, from season plans to competitions. Coach Neal Studd takes a different approach.
“In college here in the U.S., it is more of a team sport, or what my coach usually says ‘an individual sport wrapped up in a team concept,’” Svensson said. “I really like it over here because the focus on the team makes everyone work so much harder. We are 35 girls all wanting the same thing, and we are working hard every day to get there. There is no better feeling than sharing the best moments of swimming with the team, and at the same time, when things are not going the way they were planned, there are 35 girls to lean on for support.”
In her free time, which she doesn’t have much of, Svensson always tries to plan out time to relax, hang out with her friends, go to the beach and even shopping.
“I believe the most important thing in life is to keep the balance,” Svensson said.
One of Svensson’s best memories was during her freshman year when she made the NCAA tournament in the 50-yard freestyle by one-hundredth of a second.
“I was in practice and Coach Neal was running back and forth from the computer to look for updates, since we knew the list was coming out that afternoon. I knew I had a chance but that I just as well could have missed it. When I finally found out I had qualified, it was such an amazing feeling,” Svensson said.
With the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta coming up this weekend, Svensson will be spending her time relaxing and trying to have a good time.
“The whole training period before and up until the big meets is so much fun, with more sprint-focused training that I really like, so I’m always in a really good mood before big competitions,” Svensson said. “There is no better feeling than being in good shape when a big meet is coming up.”