Omaha swim and dive team tops the nation in team GPA


Ana Bellinghausen

Omaha swimmer Annie Leinart. Photo courtesy of

What fans see as spectators of college athletics is only a fraction of what student-athletes put in to their work week. They spend up to 20 hours every week in the weight room, in meetings, practicing and more, all while being a full-time student.

These college athletes don’t always get the recognition they deserve for academic accomplishments. However, the classroom success of the Maverick women’s swim and dive team could not go unnoticed.

The team notched a 3.76 GPA for the 2019 Fall semester, topping every sport on campus and in the nation for Division 1 women’s sports. The Mavericks even edged out Ivy League’s Harvard and Yale for the honor of best team GPA. Team members were caught by surprise of the news.

“That’s something I never thought would happen,” said senior swimmer Rachel Morrow. “We get this article that we had the highest GPA and it says Harvard and Nebraska-Omaha which is just amazing for us.”

However, the honor shouldn’t come quite as a surprise to the team, for high academic standards have been set by coach Todd Samland since day one.

“If you miss a class, you can’t go to practice, and if you can’t practice, you miss a meet,” said junior swimmer Alyssa Parsons. “We’ve created this culture on the team that we want to be just as good in the classroom as we are in the pool.”

Only a 2.3 GPA is required for NCAA student-athletes to be eligible for competition, but Omaha’s swim and dive team set a goal much higher than the minimum.

“I know at the beginning of the year we set a goal of a 3.5 team GPA, and we obviously surpassed that a lot this semester,” said freshman swimmer Annie Leinart. “So going through the years we want to keep in mind being the top GPA in the nation…that’s definitely going to be a goal for the rest of our careers here.”

Just four seniors will hang up their UNO swim caps at the conclusion of this year. The graduating seniors are sure their time in the program will have a lasting impression.

“I love being a senior with this being my last year and leaving a great mark here,” Morrow said.

Along with the returning Mavericks, 16 new freshmen will join the women’s swim and dive team next season.

“Next year as a senior, I definitely want to make sure we keep this culture going,” Parsons said. “We have some pretty high expectations for [the freshmen], especially with how well we did this year GPA wise.”

As new waves of swimmers and divers enter Omaha’s program, the team is confident their standard of excellence in the pool and classroom will reign on.