Splashing around in the pool as a kid was the start of a swimming career that would continue throughout college for Niklas Andersson.
“I’ve been swimming my whole life. I played a couple of other team sports as a kid, but swimming appealed to me the most,” said Andersson, junior finance major.
Originally from Sweden, Andersson came to the U.S. seeking an opportunity to combine his college studies with swimming.
“In Sweden, it’s really hard to combine school with swimming because we don’t have the same college system. Some people try to combine the two but it just doesn’t work out because the schools there don’t care about what you do outside of the classroom. They just want you to focus on your education,” said Andersson.
Andersson spent his first two years of college in North Carolina. Moving away from his family and adjusting to the new life was very difficult at first, but Andersson got used to it by constantly reminding himself of his goals.
“I struggled my first semester. I attended a really small school in North Carolina. I had nothing to do other than going to the pool and to the classroom,” said Andersson.
Andersson realized that the school wasn’t the right fit for him and decided to transfer to NSU.
“I actually wanted to come to NSU from the beginning, but it didn’t work out so I had to go to North Carolina,” said Andersson. “I contacted the coach when I decided to transfer, and it finally worked out.”
At NSU, Andersson feels that everything he does counts. With all the support, he feels that he’s not just swimming for himself anymore.
“Everyone supports you and cares about how you do. Back in Europe, no one cares if you win, even if you’re part of a club’s team; no one cares if the team wins,” said Andersson. “I like the atmosphere.”
I got a chance to sit down with Andersson to get to know him better.
Do you have any athletic members in your family?
“My mom played soccer when she was younger, and my younger brother used to swim, but he quit a few years ago.”
Do you plan to continue swimming after college?
“Probably not, I have to quit at some point. I don’t think that I’m good enough to make money out of it, so I will most likely have to quit after college.”
Do you plan on staying here or moving back home after college?
“I’d love to stay here, but it depends on what opportunities come up from now until then.”
What’s your career goal?
“I’m not certain yet about what I want to do for a job. If I go back to Sweden I might do something else, but if I stay here I definitely want to master in finance. I want to work in the business industry for sure. It’s a big field so this doesn’t limit me to a specific job.”
What’s your favorite part of swimming?
“It’s hard explaining the joy of it to a non-swimmer. Swimming lap after lap may seem very boring, but I enjoy everything about it.”
What has been your most memorable moment swimming?
“It was when we won the freestyle relay at the junior nationals in my club’s team. That’s probably the thing that I will remember the most when I quit swimming.”
How do you describe yourself as a swimmer?
“I try to do my best all the time. I’m very competitive, so I do get upset and frustrated sometimes when I’m not swimming as fast as I want to be.”
Do you have any special ritual before getting into the water?
“I don’t know if you’d consider it a ritual, but I’m always worried that my goggles will slip off and fall while I’m swimming. So I’m always pushing them and pressing as hard as I can. The skin around my eyes is always red after the race.”
Who’s your favorite swimmer?
“I grew up watching Michael Phelps. He’s such an inspiration to me, even though he’s done some bad things.”
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
“I’ve been to a lot of places, but I’ve never been to Australia, so I would love to go there.”
If you could play another sport at NSU, what would it be?
“I would say baseball, maybe, because in Sweden we have a sport similar to it. But, for me, swimming is the ultimate sport.”
If a movie were to be made about your life, who would you like to play you?
When do you feel most proud of yourself?
“When I’ve worked really hard all year and at the end of the year, that hard work really paid off. It’s when I see that I’ve reached my goals and accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish.”
Do you have any personal goals you’d like to accomplish aside from school and swimming?
“I’d love to be a coach for once in my life. I feel that after all these years of being coached I have enough experience to try it out and see how it is. I would like to be on the other side the pool deck instead of being in the pool.”
How do you celebrate winning?
“I’m kind of quiet. I’m not the type of person who freaks out and jumps.”
Did you have a coach that really inspired you and influenced your decisions?
“I’ve had a lot of good coaches. I had one coach back in Sweden who had no idea what he was doing and didn’t really know much about swimming, but he was so passionate about it. He was crazy and great at motivating us. He always transferred all the good energy to us.”
How do you balance between swimming and academics?
“It’s hard. I take a lot of naps, so that keeps me alive. I try to balance in a way that when I’m in the pool I don’t think about school, and when I’m studying, I try not to think about everything else and swimming. It helps.”
Do you have any other hobbies other than swimming?
“It’s hard to find time to do anything else. I’m into electronic music because it’s really big in Sweden.”