Haley Roed discusses learning to swim, her time as a Pirate and how she transitioned to being a student-athelete at the collegiate level.
Many people compete in sports during their time in high school. Few hold aspirations of competing collegiately and even fewer earn the opportunity. Crookston’s own Haley Roed, 20, made the leap from high school to collegiate sports where she competes as a sophomore on Minnesota State University Moorhead’s swimming team. A feat not even perceived as possible by Roed until halfway through her career as a Crookston Pirate.
“I never really thought about swimming in college,” Roed said. “It wasn’t really on my radar. I didn’t ever think that I would be good enough to swim in college. In ninth grade, I had it mentioned to me. I think even then, I didn’t know. Then in 10th grade, that’s when I really decided I was going to go for it.””
Backtrack to the age of seven when Roed began to learn to swim simply as a precaution.
“The main reason I was in swim lessons was because my grandparents live on the lake,” Roed said. “So my parents [Nicole and Eric] wanted me to learn to swim so that when we went there, I was safe.”
Two years later, Roed joined the Crookston Crocodile Swim Team where she swam competitively throughout sixth grade. In seventh grade, she officially became a member of the Crookston Pirates varsity swim team.
As a freshman, Roed nearly qualified for state making it to sections, the level before state.
“When I got to ninth grade, I was kind of close to being able to swim at state, but not that close,” Roed said. “I didn’t perform the best our sections. In 10th grade, sections went a little better and that was my first time getting to go to state.”
Roed qualified for the state competition as a sophomore in the 200 yard free relay. A relay that included current Pirate senior Kate MacGregor.
That summer, Roed joined the Grand Forks Red River Valley Wahoos club team, a team that dedicates the entire year to swimming. Roed believes this served as a sufficient stepping stone to collegiate athletics.
“That was a really good experience for me,” Roed said. “After that year, I quit basketball so I could start swimming year around. With that team, I got to go to YMCA Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina where I swam in the biggest meet I had ever been in besides college.”
By the time graduation rolled around, Roed already completed a career that featured three trips to the state competition in four different events and it was time to find a location to continue swimming.
The school needed to be in Minnesota in order to stay within close proximity of her family. Of the four schools in contention plus a few random out-of-state schools, Roed visited only Moorhead officially, which proved to be her eventual final decision.
“There were a couple of different things I looked in to,” Roed said. For one, they have a really great biology department, the program I want to go to. I also like that it was really close to home. My family is super important to me. I still have two younger siblings at home, Gunnar and Kelsey. I wanted to be able to still see them often.”
After signing to swim at MSUM, Roed received a letter from the Minnesota State University, Mankato coach, but it came too late and Roed was set to attend Moorhead as a member of the Dragons’ swim team.
Once on campus, the major changes included in a high school to college transition began to present themselves ranging from teammates and practices to academics.
“My senior year, we had 12 girls on the high school swim team,” Roed said. “When I showed up at my first practice at MSUM, there were roughly 38 girls on the swim team. My freshman class is the biggest recruiting class MSUM has ever had. Going oldest to youngest was a big shock. The hours that a college team puts in is really different than high school.”
In high school, the team practiced once a day five days a week. In college, the team practices nine times over a span of six days allowing one off day.
Every team member swims at most collegiate meets, but only a predetermined number of swimmers possess the ability to score points for the team creating a competitive atmosphere at practices.
“It’s really different going from one of the top swimmers on your team to the middle of the pack or the bottom of the pack as a freshman,” Roed said. “Learning to adapt to that and get used to it was really beneficial because you have the people who come there to practice every day and get things done. It’s a lot easier to push yourself when everyone else around you is pushing themselves just as hard.”
On top of attempting to improve each practice and drop times every competition, Roed is tasked with upholding the first part of her title, a student-athlete.
But according to Roed, swimming and school did not impede on one another and even aided one another once she adapted to the new situation.
“It was kind of an adjustment at first,” Roed said. “I’ve always been a good student so I took 17 credits my first semester. Maybe I caused myself a little more stress than I should have, but I handled it and got used to it. Having a whole team holding you accountable to go to class is really helpful. A lot of people say college sports can be a hindrance to academics, but I really think having a set schedule every day helps.”
Occasionally, swimming meets can conflict with classes, but Roed claims professors understand and do well to accommodate.
Swimming collegiately contributed to many of Roed’s favorite memories. Back in high school, Roed set out to accomplish her goal of swimming the 50 freestyle in under 25 seconds. She did not achieve her target then, but thanks to swimming at MSUM, she did.
“In my senior year of high school swimming, I really wanted to break 25 seconds in the 50 free style,” Roed said. “At my senior year of state, I swam a 25.04 so I was really close. That was a goal I still kept and just broke this year.”
Roed swam a 24.92 in the 50 yard freestyle at the Dragon-Cobber Invite in early December.
Moorhead swimming also exposed Roed to a new environment where she made new acquaintances that turned into friendships. Next year, Roed will be reunited with old friends when Crookston seniors Kate MacGregor and Merran Dingmann join the Dragons.
“Merran and Kate are coming to swim on the team next year,” Roed said. “So I’m really excited to get to swim with some of my old teammates.”
The Dragons will next compete this Friday and Saturday, January 12-13 at the Dragon Invite in West Fargo, North Dakota with just over a month until the NSIC Championships beginning on February 14 in West Fargo.