Talented national team swimmer, water polo player and former Stirling High School pupil, Tumi Macdonell is headed to the US to begin her new chapter as a student at McKendree University in Illinois after her sporting prowess earned her an opportunity to study abroad.
The 19-year-old plans to use all the opportunities and facilities that the university has to offer to advance her sporting career and further excel in swimming.
“I am very excited by the opportunity to study and swim for a college in the US.
“The American college swimming scene is very competitive, and I am also looking forward to living in another country and meeting people from around the world.
“I want to develop further — both as a swimmer and as a student and I feel that overall, the US has better facilities and coaches,” Macdonell said.
Macdonell used a platform called Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), a website that connects high school student-athletes with college coaches. The site also assists students with the college recruitment process. Student-athletes can create an online profile, research colleges, and make direct contact with the different coaches and colleges.
While she has yet to decide on what she will be studying, her interests lean toward business administration or marketing.
McKendree University is a private college that boasts a strong swim team that competes in division two of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“My immediate goals are to keep representing SA at water polo and improve my personal best times in this year’s national swimming championships.
“Once I get to the US in August, I want to settle into my new team and help them to improve their results as a team.
“McKendree has great facilities, a great coach, and a great team vibe. I can’t wait to join them,” Macdonell said.
Macdonell had a successful 2023 as she improved her personal best times in most of her events and she won her first senior national medal when she came second in the women’s 100m freestyle at the SA Short Course Championships in Cape Town.
In water polo, she represented SA at the World Aquatic Championships in Japan and at the World Cup qualification tournament in Germany.
Macdonell maintains that staying motivated and focused is an important part of the journey.
“Setting clear goals for myself has kept me motivated anda big plus is having close friends at my swimming club to encourage me and support me.
“Success never comes quickly so it is important to stay motivated and train as hard as you can.
“All athletes face disappointment at times and will also have months and sometimes years when there appears to be no improvement. Don’t be discouraged and always stay positive,” Macdonell said.