By Kellie Blauvelt ‘15
Pacific Lutheran University student came from Japan to find opportunities in America but instead she finds her greatest opportunities in the pool.
Kina Ackerman holds multiple school records for the PLU women’s swim team. Ackerman spends 25 hours a week in the pool on top of being a lifeguard and a swim instructor. With graduation approaching in the spring, she faces the end of her swimming career and the start of her professional life.
Ackerman began breaking school records as a sophomore. “It makes my heart race to think about it,” she said. “I go back to what I felt like in that moment.” Her goals for this season are very explicit, “I want to keep breaking records and I want our women’s team to be first in conference.”
Ackerman sighs as she thinks about ending her career as a Lute swimmer. “I’m back and forth, although I’m really sad swimming is almost over,” she said. “I’m really excited for what the next chapter of my life is going to be.” Ackerman pauses and says, “But I do know swimming is always going to be a part of who I am.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing with my life yet,” says Ackerman who is eating a quick lunch before practice. “Once I started I was sucked in for the rest of my life,” she says. “Once you get into swimming you become part of a whole community of different people.”
Ackerman and her roommate, Hannah Procter ’14, laugh as they think about how swimming will influence Kina in her future as a communication and business student. “I’ve seen Kina really mature as she has gotten older on the team and she has stepped up as a leader,” says Procter. “She was really selfish but she has become a great leader.” Ackerman says, “Basically I was a little shit.” Kina says swimming has taught her leadership skills and conflict management skills. Procter says, “She knows how to take charge of situations, she’s going to be great in business.”
Ackerman’s family moved to Washington state because her dad had a dream of giving his family better opportunities. Little did he know all Ackerman needed was a little chlorine to succeed, “I’ve had a pretty good life, but swimming and the pool is where I really found myself,” Kina says as she walks into the pool for practice.