Potawatomi Pride: Synchro Swimmer Mary Killman Wins National Titles
On April 13, Mary Killman, 22, led the solo synchronized swimming event at the U.S. national championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, from start to finish, winning her second national title in two tries. She won the gold medal in the solo competition at the U.S. collegiate championships, held in Stanford, California, in late March.
Killman, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation who turned 22 on April 9 represented the United States in the synchronized swimming competition at last year's London Olympics. She's now a first-year student at Missouri's Lindenwood University. But she hasn't abandoned her career in the pool.
Killman, who placed 11th at last year's Olympics with her partner Mariya Koroleva in the duet competition, is adjusting rather well to her life as a student-athlete. In fact, she is proving that she can excel in the water and in the classroom as well.
It was three years ago that she was last in school.
"When I was 18 I finished high school and I was supposed to go to college," he said. "But I decided it wasn't for me then."
Instead, she opted to focus on her synchronized swimming career, a move which paved off with her appearance in the Olympics.
With the next Summer Olympics not till 2016, Killman opted to pursue her education. She's on an athletic scholarship at Lindenwood, where she is taking sports management classes.
"This is a whole new world for me," she said of her university life.
And how is she doing thus far, after not being in school for a handful of years?
"So far I'm doing okay," she said.
Well, actually a lot better than that. In fact, Killman is sporting an impressive 3.8 GPA in her university studies.
Part of the reason for that no doubt is that she has sufficient time for her studies. A collegiate athletic rule stipulates swimmers can be in the water only a maximum of three hours per day. Compare that to the 8-10 hours in the pool that Killman was putting in during her Olympic preparations.
Though she is enjoying her time at Lindenwood, Killman is also not sure just how long she will be there. She might decide to once again put her studies on hold at some point during the next couple of years in order to train full-time for the 2016 Olympics, which will be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"That is a possibility," she said.
One thing that's certain, though, is her pride in her Native heritage. On her website, MaryKillman.com, she says: “I'm a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Tribe and am very proud of my Native American heritage. The tribe has been so supportive of everything I've done and I can't thank them enough for it.”