“She’s got no where to go but up”

Freshman Kiana Swain moved all the way from New Zealand to join Cougar swim this season



Freshman Kiana Swain earned 15 points in the swim meet against the University of Utah on Jan. 15, 2021 in Gibb Pool.

KAT MCKINNEY-ROLEY, Evergreen reporter

WSU swim has been on the rise for the last several seasons, most notably when Matt Leach took over as head coach three years ago. His recruiting skills have brought in several top talents that have made the Cougars all that more relevant in the Pac-12.

In this past recruiting class, Leach recruited Kiana Swain, a freshman who mainly swims butterfly from Pukekohe, New Zealand. Swain decided to move across the world to swim for the Cougars in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before swimming for WSU, Swain was a two-time LCM Open National Champion in the 200-fly. On top of that, Swain earned 12 age-group medals, four of which were gold.

Swain has also represented New Zealand at two international competitions and has swum for New Zealand in the Oceanic Championships in 2018. Additionally, she has won two silver medals in the 100 and 200-fly at the Victorian Age group Championships in 2018. In 2019, Swain also won the 200-fly at the New Zealand Swimming Championships.

Swain clearly made a huge splash in the pool in New Zealand, but she has also had a huge impact on the Cougs in her young career.

WSU wasn’t the only option for Swain when she was choosing her team, but coming to WSU meant swimming for a Division-I and Pac-12 school.

“Something with Washington State stuck with me; the team environment and how the girls get along so well, and the family environment,” Swain said.

In just her first season as a Coug, Swain currently has already swum for several top-ten times in WSU swim program history.

“It’s really great, it’s the first year I’ve swam with her. She came in and automatically made an impact. She trains very detailed,” senior and team captain Taylor McCoy said.

It isn’t a secret that the WSU swim team has a high-energy program and instills family-like values, but it didn’t take Swain long to adapt to that. Her upbeat and joyful personality helped her fit into the team right away.

“They always seem like they have so much fun on the pool deck, which is something I really value in my swimming,” Swain said.

Not only has Swain been a huge comtributor to the team, but she has also found her passion and love for the sport again. According to Swain, that passion and love were once lost, but being at WSU has helped her find it again.

Her pure joy for everything is what makes Swain unique, McCoy said.

“She’s at practice, and she’s really enjoying swimming and enjoying what she’s doing,” McCoy said.

This past weekend, Swain competed in the Pac-12 championships where she swam for the seventh-fastest time in the 200-fly in school history. On top of that, she broke her own personal bests several times during the tournament.

Even though this was just Swain’s first year swimming in a Division-I, Pac-12 program, she already reached her preseason goal of having a top-ten time in school history.

“I think she has nowhere to go but up, the sky’s the limit for her,” McCoy said. “I think she’s going to make a splash in the pool for New Zealand. I can’t say for sure where she’ll end up, but it’s going to be good.”

Swain has only swum in the crimson and gray for a handful of meets, but it’s safe to say that in the years to come she will continue to turn the heads and drop the jaws of Cougar swim fans everywhere.