The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Kaersten Meitz: The energy of the Cougs in one human

WSU Swimming is starting the year with a new assistant coach who is looking to make an impact with her vast knowledge and experience.
WSU Athletics
WSU swimming assistant coach Kaersten Meitz smiling while talking with head coach Matt Leach.

The Cougars are starting this season with a new assistant coach fresh out of the water who is looking to make an impact on the team. Kaersten Meitz, 27, has an energy that shows not only confidence and knowledge but joy, respect and charisma. 

Meitz swam her whole life, achieving a number of accolades, such as competing for a spot on the Olympic swim team.

“When I am at the pool I know I can 100% be myself,” Meitz said. “I know it’s where I am best I know it’s where I am most comfortable.”

Meitz swam at Purdue University and said that college swimming made her fall in love with the sport all over again. 

Although Meitz has had many mentors she said that during her time at Purdue, she created a new family with the other swimmers and that her coach, John Klinge, is almost like a second dad.

“I just had the time of my life at Purdue luckily I was able to extend my time post-graduation because I trained there for another four years as a professional swimmer,” Meitz said

When Meitz was first called to compete for a spot in the 2020 Olympics she was excited, but when the pandemic hit she was struck with an opportunity to train for an extra year. 

“COVID brought out some very unique training methods but it allowed us to get creative and kind of break up the monotony of everyday training,” Meitz said. 

Once Meitz went through the strain and struggle of the pandemic, she knew she had yet to reach her potential. She decided to swim for another year and soon joined a team in the International Swimming League where she was able to keep swimming on the international level.

“It’s like the NFL but for swimming, except on an international level,” Meitz said. “I was reached out to from one of the general managers from the Toronto Titans in Canada so I had the opportunity to participate in a season of that which was so much fun. That was one of the highlights of my whole swimming career.”

Although Meitz was able to achieve feats beyond her own imagination, she took her first step back from swimming almost a year ago and began working at Stryker in medical device sales in the sports medicine division. Even though she learned a lot medically, Meitz said, taking the time away from the pool ultimately showed her she was not in the right spot.

“Kind of quickly into my job I was getting the itch to be back in the sport right away so I started talking with some other programs, a lot of mentors I have in the sport were starting to spread my name around so that was how Matt [Leach] heard of me,” Meitz said. 

Once Leach had reached out Meitz said she was hesitant due to the distance from her home of Waukesha, Wisconsin. But with the compelling words of Leach, Meitz was ultimately convinced to take a visit to the Cougar community.

“It was really crazy because I went into the visit just unsure, and very quickly into the visit I just started to have this gut feeling grow. As I was here talking with Matt and Russ [Whitaker] and with the other staff and meeting the team I was like ‘I could really see myself here, Meitz said. 

She said coach Leach brings an element of family and community to those on the team and they show that in the way that they talk and swim. 

“These are a group of girls that love each other and want to win, and those are the types of athletes I want to work with and ultimately that is what brought me here,” Meitz said.

WSU Athletics
WSU swimming assistant coach Kaerstan Meitz laughing with athletes on the swim team.

Meitz came in as a swimmer who was okay out of high school but said she had coaches who believed in her every step of the way. She said that encouragement and belief are what drove her to become the swimmer she is today. 

“I want to give back in that sense,” Meitz said. “I see a lot of talent here at WSU in these swimmers; a lot of diamonds in the rough. So I want to be able to not only work them hard and give them the practices and training that is going to get them there, but they need to believe that they can achieve that.”

Meitz seems to have the knowledge and skill to help the Cougars improve throughout this season and in many more to come. Building confidence and helping the team reach their potential that not only Meitz, but coach Leach sees just as well. 

Meitz is also noticing the strong bond that the swimmers have and that the culture is how the team can move forward.

“I loved my time at Purdue but I don’t know that I have seen a group of more close-knit girls,” Meitz said.

Due to Meitz being such a new coach herself, she said she is not only looking to teach but to learn as much as she can. 

“I wanna be like a sponge,” Meitz said. “I want to soak in and learn as much as I can from Matt and Russ because they have been here for five, six, seven seasons now and just learning as much as I can about the recruiting process and also from a training standpoint.” 

Meitz has big hopes for the season, as exemplified by Dori Hathazi already breaking personal records, the Cougars as a whole are off to a strong and positive start to the season.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
PARKER R. SCHAFER, Evergreen columnist
Parker is a sophomore going into Public Relations. He is from Vancouver, Washington (Go Timbers!! Sounders suck). Parker started working for the Evergreen in fall of 2022 and has been an editor for the Evergreen Opinion section and is currently a copy editor. He loves to talk (a bit too much) and is always looking to learn more about anything. They have currently taken back up their role as the WSU swim beat writer and loves attending the meets! He is also fluent in Spanish and is always open to practicing and learning in whatever way he can..

Comments (1)

Social Media Policy

The Office of Student Media

The purpose of the comment section is to foster courteous and constructive discussion of relevant issues. The Daily Evergreen staff reserve the right to delete any comment we deem at odds with that mission.

We want to establish a fair and open forum for discussion, but personal attacks and threats of any kind actively take away from that purpose. Once we delete a comment we will explain both in the post and through a personal message to the sender as to why it didn’t meet our standards. We will also add a link to our social media policy page on our website. We cannot allow comments that could possibly keep others from speaking their mind on our page.

Prohibited comments include:

  • Comments with directed profanity, bullying, spam, false or misleading statements
  • Comments that could cause physical and emotional harm to any person
  • Offensive language targeted toward a specific group of people
  • Comments that are off-topic
  • Comments that are racist, sexist or bigoted
  • Comments by students working for The Office of Student Media, unless authorized
Comments are Closed.
All The Daily Evergreen Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest
  • EricSep 27, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Great article! Super interesting journey. Cool to see WSU attracting driven coaching staff.