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Spartans’ McKenzie Street adamant on being student first, athlete second

Education outweighs athletics for this University of Tampa swimmer

TAMPA, Fla. – McKenzie Street, a junior at the University of Tampa, nearly quit swimming altogether shortly after starting her college career.

While a freshman at East Carolina University, Street realized that the pressure of NCAA Division I swimming caused her to be focused on sports, more so than academics.

“I made the decision (to commit to ECU) because I really wanted to swim D-I (NCAA Division I) at the time,” she said, while sitting poolside at the UT Aquatic Centre. “I ended up not really liking it; I liked the school and the people, but swimming D-I was overtaking my life, I felt like it was the only thing.

“They say that you’re a student-athlete, but there I felt like it was athlete-student. Everything was consumed by swimming and that’s not how I liked it.”

Street’s role models Colleen and Chuck Street (or as she calls them, “mom and dad”) never forced their daughter to swim when she was growing up. It was something they wanted her to do for fun.

“I feel like parents and coaches are a big contributor on being hard on their kids/swimmers about sticking with the sport. My parents were never like that with me, and I really appreciate it,” Street said.

“Swimming is not my top priority in life, not even remotely, it’s all about ‘Am I enjoying what I’m doing?”

With that question, and her academic future in mind, Street made the decision to attend the University of Tampa. In regard to continuing her swimming career, she erred on the side of caution.

A tropical environment is on full display at the UT Aquatic Centre as palm trees and a crystal clear pool/sky set the scene.  (Nikolas Marsiglio)

“I was going to give myself the semester to just try it (swimming) and it was a really good first semester here,” the former ECU Pirate said. “I decided to finish the year swimming and ended up having a great conference-meet last year.

“I actually liked swimming again so I decided to stick it out.”

Street is a Human Performance major and hopes to pursue a career within that field.

“I am really thinking about going to grad-school for occupational therapy and working with kids,” said the Academic All-American. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.

“My sister (Skylar) had occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy, and they always came to the house.”

“So it was always something from a young age that I really enjoyed. I love moving around, and I love kids, so I think it’s the best of both worlds for me.”

Street is the current Spartans record holder in the 100 Breaststroke (1:02.63), 200 Breaststroke (2:16.32), and 100 Butterfly (0:55.06).

McKenzie Street prepares for the upcoming NCAA tournament by practicing her breaststroke. (Nikolas Marsiglio)

She will be swimming in the 200 Individual Medley and 200 Breaststroke at the upcoming 2018 NCAA Division II men’s and women’s aquatic championship event.

As per NCAA.com it will be held in Greensboro, North Carolina from Mar. 14-17 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.