Athletics, extracurriculars a balancing act for busy Spartans’ swimmer

‘Sometimes I don’t know how I do it’

University of Tampa Swimmer
Roma Vrijhof getting ready for the upcoming NCAA Championships next week in Geneva, Ohio. (Photo by: Jackson Kerbl) 

TAMPA, Fla – Roma Vrijhof is not your average collegiate student athlete.

With the amount of activities, societies, and leadership roles she finds herself in it’s almost as if she lives two separate lives at the University of Tampa. She acknowledges all the extramural activities she’s involved in can be overwhelming.

“Sometimes, I don’t know how I do it,” Vrijhof said, following a Thursday morning practice at the University of Tampa swimming complex, days before the national championships were set to begin.

It’s no surprise the astute senior takes pride in her multitasking ability.

She attended the British International School in Abu Dhabi for her International Baccalaureate, a strenuous two-year program that taught her to be extremely organized.

The Netherlands native carried this scholastic prowess to U Tampa where she received the Division II Academic Achievement Award her freshman year.

Along with her standards in the classroom, Vrijhof holds herself responsible to several charitable initiatives and societies. ‘Sport4Nepal’ is at the top of her list – a non-profit organization she founded that helps build schools in underdeveloped areas of Nepal and Cambodia, stemming from the former’s earthquake in 2015.

Roma Vrijhof steps up to the starting block. (Photo by: Jackson Kerbl)

“My grade school (St Christopher’s, in Bahrain) read about the earthquake and made sure we were very aware of it at the time. Being a small island, I knew it was the perfect environment to start a charitable cause” said Vrijhof.

“We started with soccer tournaments which were such a hit we were able to move onto swimming tournaments and raised more than US $50,000 that went towards building schools in Nepal and then expanding to Cambodia.

“We built one school in each country.”

Vrijhof is also a part of the American Marketing Association, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, U Tampa Diplomats, and a Week of Welcome Leader with the University of Tampa.

And now onto the athlete part of ‘Student-Athlete’.

The women’s swimming senior dedicates 20 hours a week to team activities including training, competing and team functions. On top of this she was voted team captain for this season where she leads, manages and represents the 40+ women on the team.

She was named a Division II NCAA All-American the past two seasons for her freestyle, backstroke swims and relay events.

For those keeping track Vrijhof is a two-time All-American swimmer, received the Division II Academic Achievement Award her freshman year, and founded an organization that built two schools in underdeveloped parts of the world. All of this before the age of 24.

Asked to rank these outstanding accomplishments in her young career in order of what holds the most importance to you, the answer was easy.

“Just because this team means the world to me, being named team captain was unbelievable, that has to be number one. Founder of Sport4Nepal has to be two. And even though being named All-American is awesome, and it’s an honour and exciting, that has to be three.”

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Posted: Mar 10 2024 5:38 pm
Filed under: Sports Swimming