Waddell to swim professionally in International Swimming League


Tevyn Waddell had thoughts of walking away from swimming after COVID-19 wiped out the end of her senior season at the University of Minnesota. But then, she got a Facebook message.

It was from Tina Andrew, the general manager of the New York Breakers, asking for her phone number. Andrew presented Waddell with an opportunity to swim professionally for the Breakers in the International Swimming League (ISL).

Waddell knew Andrew from when her son and now teammate, Michael, swam in Aberdeen as a kid, but the chance to be a professional swimmer came out of nowhere. The Mitchell native signed to swim for New York in the ISL’s second season of existence.

“This opportunity came out of the blue, and it was kind of like an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Waddell said. “It’s everyone’s dream to do what they love professionally.”
ISL contracts are year-by-year, so Waddell is keeping an open mind about her future as a swimmer entering her first season.

In its second year of existence, the ISL expanded to 10 teams, with five teams located in the United States and Canada and another five in Europe and Asia. Due to COVID-19, the ISL has a condensed five-week schedule for the regular season and semifinals starting on Oct. 16 in Budapest, Hungary. The competitions will be broadcast on CBS Sports.


Until then, Waddell is sticking with the training schedule that made her a nine-time All-American at Minnesota. She is swimming on campus every Monday through Saturday, with double swims and weight training mixed in. Other than wearing a mask until she jumps into the pool and finding a new place to lift, the training has gone without many bumps in the road.

“It’s kind of crazy how smoothly this is all working out given COVID,” she said. “… Even though, yes, we are in a pandemic right now, it’s not a huge hindrance right now with my training.”

Her time at Minnesota follows two weeks in Turkey training with Olympians and world champions. She trained with Michael Andrew, South Africa’s Chad le Clos, a 2012 gold medalist in the 200-meter butterfly, and Danish swimmer Pernille Blume, who won gold in the 2016 50-meter freestyle.

“People always say, ‘Oh, they’re just regular people.’ You always think that,” Waddell said. “But then I got to really know them and it’s crazy they’re idolized by so many people, but they’re just normal people when I got to become friends with them. It was really cool to be able to train with these top of the arc athletes.”

Until the season starts, she’ll stay in Minnesota to train. But she also has her eyes on potentially another Olympic trials bid. Waddell qualified in the 100 butterfly, 100 back and 200 back the summer heading into her senior season.

She also has plans of attending law school in the future, too, though when given the opportunity with the Breakers, she decided to keep swimming.

“There was definitely part of me given COVID was kind of like, maybe just call it quits because a year is a lot of time to dedicate, especially when I want to move forward with my life at some point, too,” Waddell said. “But now that I have this opportunity, I might as well just go for it.”

“If I get another shot at the (Olympic) trials, I get another shot,” she later added. “But if I don’t, I’m ready to move forward with my life.”


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