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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Sports

Junior swimmer continues to make an impact


Bouter

Junior Peyton Kondis has been a leader for the Cougars and has been one of its best swimmers. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Junior swimmer and Houston team captain Peyton Kondis formed an instant connection with the sport from the first time that she jumped from a starting block into the chlorinated water.

“It’s been a long-time passion of mine,” Kondis said ahead of her second-straight appearance at the NCAA Championships. “I’m really excited to have gotten to this level.”

Her excitement is warranted.

Kondis has always dreamed of becoming a Division I athlete. A recruitment email led her to fulfill this dream and find the college that was the best fit for her.

All it took was some encouraging words by assistant coach Hannah Burandt to make her move across the country to become a Houston Cougar.

“It seemed like a great place where I could come onto the team and make an immediate impact,” Kondis said. “I wanted something that could grow with me, and this is the kind of place for that.”

Despite the nerves she felt going into her first season at UH, Kondis played a big part in one of the program’s biggest accomplishments in recent memory.

In her freshman year, Kondis contributed to Houston’s first ever conference title at the American Athletic Conference Championships, so much so that she was picked as a team captain when her sophomore season rolled around.

Kondis went on to lead her team to another AAC title while qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

When it came time to compete in the conference meet as a junior, she did it again and qualified for the NCAAs once more.

Now, as she prepares to be the first UH swimmer to make consecutive NCAA title meets since 1989, she slowly inches closer to fulfilling another dream: being an Olympian.

Although she believes that making it to the Olympics “is shooting pretty far,” she has an opportunity to qualify for Team USA.

Less than a month ago, Kondis qualified for the Olympic Trials after a 1:09.55 100m breaststroke in Houston’s final home meet of the season.

Should the trials go in her favor, Kondis will have a shot to represent the United States in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympics.

Her success has not come easy, though. She said she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone from the moment she was recruited to a city over 1,300 miles away from home and has faced her fair share of adversity.

After her selection as a team captain, Kondis said she did not know how to proceed, having not been in the position before.

“When I realized that’s how people saw me, I made it a point to be that kind of person for them,” Kondis said.

On top of the support of her teammates, head coach Ryan Wochomurka has a lot of praise for the way the team captain handled her new position and her development since her arrival at UH.

“She is a very quiet leader,” Wochomurka said, “but she leads in the way she carries herself. This team looks to her to see how to manage being a student athlete and doing it at a high level.

No one, including Kondis, knows where she will end up or where her career will take her, but she knows she’s already living out her ambitions.

“It’s become more than I could have ever imagined,” Kondis said.

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