Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Freshman swimmer’s international competing helps embrace adaptation in collegiate career

Manoo Sirivelu
The men’s and women’s swim & dive teams cheer as their teammates compete against the University of Houston on Oct. 6, 2023.

It was an early April meet in Toronto, Canada, and swimmer Brayden Taivassalo trailed the leader of the 200-meter breaststroke. At the Canadian Swimming Trials, Taivassalo had everything to prove. When he took the lead in the last 50 meters, qualifying for his first senior World Championships team, his name was officially on the map.

As a freshman, Taivassalo has swum internationally twice and is an up-and-comer on the Texas team. Before moving to Austin, his career started in Canada with swimming lessons at six-years-old. Despite getting started in a small Canadian town, Taivassalo was soon winning provincial championships. When COVID-19 hit and Canada shut down, Taivassalo moved to the United States with his aunt to continue swimming for club teams near the University of Florida.

“Being around that atmosphere, it wasn’t integrated, necessarily, but there was definitely some crossover with the collegiate team,” Taivassalo said.

“You got to see the big college guys all the time. And I was like ‘I want to be one of those.’”

Upon Taivassalo returning to Canada and changing swim clubs, he competed in his first Canadian trials. He swept the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, making the junior national team for the first time.

“Knowing that belief in myself is really all I needed to get me through was super sweet,” he said. “As far as my career goes, and that really put me on the map as far as Canadian swimming is concerned.”

After that, the college offers started flying in, including one from the University of Texas. Though the warm weather and coaching staff were inviting, Taivassalo knew the transition wouldn’t be easy.

“I’m still transitioning,” he said. “There’s been some shoring up of some weaknesses and stuff like that, but I think we’re making some good progress.”

In his debut at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, he finished 30th in the 200-meter breaststroke.

“That was my baptism of fire,” Taivassalo said. “It was a learning experience. If you get too caught up in the result, you’re always gonna be wondering what you could and should have done instead of actually learning from experience itself.”

Taivassalo took his own advice seriously at the Pan American Games in Chile in November and won a silver in the 200-meter breaststroke with a new personal best of 2:10.89 and bronze in the 4×100 medley relay.

“It was a big experience,” he said. “It was my second time representing Canada at the senior international level, which is definitely a step into the deep end compared to the junior level. It was a lot of fun.”

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