Swim & Dive: The Chemistry of Kelly

Idaho swimmer Kelly Giffey has been swimming since before birth.

Her mother, Cheryl, attended swim classes while she was pregnant. Shortly after Kelly was born, the two began participating in mom and me swim classes together.

“Every summer, I’d do weekly swimming lessons,” Kelly said, “I remember always being sad when it was over so I decided to do club swimming in third grade. It was always just really fun for me.”

Kelly knew she wanted to swim in college and stay in a small town, like her hometown of Chehalis, Washington.

“Everyone is pretty real and chill here at UI,” Kelly said. “The authenticity of people here is something I like about the town.”

Kelly said, despite her busy schedule, she chose to study biochemistry.

“It’s really interesting for me to learn about the chemistry of life,” Kelly said. “I want to do something in the future relating to bio-med or promoting public health.”

Kelly said she would like to help in third world countries one day.

The two-year captain relieves stress by dancing to her best ability, frequenting Moscow’s many coffee shops and relaxing with friends at church.

Idaho head coach Mark Sowa described Kelly as the team’s rock.

“She uplifts, teaches and comes in every day with a smile on her face trying to get better,” Sowa said. “She’s an emotional leader with a great value system.”

Kelly said she enjoys the challenge of swimming.

“Swimming is cool because it requires a ton of investment,” Kelly said. “It’s difficult to do other sports at the same time.”

Cheryl said Kelly always had a caring nature.

“I remember when Kelly was two years old, she was standing at the top of the stairs and just looked down at us and said, ‘I’m all better,’” Cheryl said with a laugh. “We had no idea what she was talking about. Then she said she had put herself in timeout, we didn’t even know what she did.”

Sowa said he appreciates Kelly’s attitude every day.

“I joke with Kelly in particular, for example I say, ‘This will be your last Nov.15 as a Vandal,’” Sowa said. “It’s sad but it always gets a laugh out of her and I’d never take the time we had for granted.”

In her spare time, Kelly is a tutor for the athletic department and enjoys running and skiing.

Kelly said she plans to use her time after the swimming season ends to become more artsy.

Colton Clark can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu


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