Going for the Gold

PR student qualifies for 2012 Summer Olympics

Kathleen Hersey Banner

College of Communication senior Kathleen Hersey demonstrates how a student from The University of Texas at Austin can make an impact on an international scale.

The former UT swimmer and major in the Department of Advertising & Public Relations recently qualified for her second Olympic games as she placed second in the 200m butterfly and will compete in London on Tuesday, July 31 and Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Hersey first entered the world stage in 2008, qualifying for the 200m butterfly finals at the Beijing Olympics before she was even a freshman at the Forty Acres. Born in Athens, Ga., she set national high school records in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley.

During her two seasons with the Longhorns, she set six individual school records, was part of four school relay records, won 11 Big 12 titles and took bronze in the 200m butterfly at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships. Also in 2010, Hersey left the Lady Longhorns swim team to train individually under Longhorn Aquatics head coach Eddie Reese.

She will compete in the same event as she did during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she placed eighth overall.

A portion of her other accolades include being an All-American seven times and winning numerous medals at other competitions such as the four gold medals she won in the 2007 Pan American Games, and the three U.S. National Champion honors captured for the 200m butterfly in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Hersey is not only a champion in athletics, as she proved when she made the first team on the 2010 Academic All Big-12 roster, and she plans to work with student-run organization Texas Tower PR this fall as a social media coordinator.

The athlete and scholar said she draws inspiration from both her parents. Hersey said that her father, a financial consultant who has used a wheelchair since the 1980s after a spinal cord aneurysm, still maintains an active lifestyle.

Unfortunately, Hersey lost her mother to colon cancer in January but said that her mother's memory keeps Hersey motivated and in a positive mindset.

"There have been a lot of life changes that have happened – it's given me a new perspective on swimming. While I love swimming, and I want to be my best, there's still a thing in the back of my mind that it's still a sport," said Hersey in an interview with TexasSports.com. "So it's not as hard to give my entire effort, because I'm not worried about anything else. I have clarity and focus to my vision."

When it comes to representing both UT and the U.S.A. in London, Hersey said she is both honored and humbled.

"I'm a Longhorn for life, no doubt," said Hersey in the TexasSports.com interview. "The established culture of greatness is very appealing. Texas swimming is a dynasty. Having these great role models to look up to, I realize I'm representing Jill Sterkel and Aaron Peirsol whenever I swim."

"There's a patriotism to wanting to represent your country, but there's a more personal connection with Texas because it's shaped who I am."

Marc Speir
Senior Content Producer