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Longland Takes on Medical School Next

Former Wolf Pack swimmer Nikki Longland is in her first year of medical school in the University of Nevada's School of Medicine.

She joins a long list of former Wolf Pack student-athletes who have gone on to professional schools. Most recently, Nevada has seen Shavon Moore (women's basketball), Jacob Anderson (baseball) and Katie Lyons (skiing) go on to medical school, Alex Borcherts (women's golf) enroll in nursing school and Meghann Morill (rifle) and Kimberly Medina (swimming) enter law school just to name a few.

A local product from Sparks, Longland earned her bachelor's degree in biology in May of 2014. She competed in numerous events for the Wolf Pack swimming team during her career including the backstroke and breaststroke disciplines as well as the medley and medley relay events. An academic all-conference honoree, she won Nevada's Give Back Like Jack Community Service Award in 2014 for her dedication for giving back to the community. She is a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) and volunteered more than 350 hours in the Northern Nevada Medical Emergency Room and more than 60 hours as a volunteer in the Student Outreach Clinic on campus.

We recently caught up with Longland to talk about entering medical school and how her athletics experience will help her in her career endeavors.

Q: What are your ultimate career goals?
A: My ultimate career goal is to become the best physician that I can be. I'm not quite sure what field I want to go into yet. But, for whatever field I eventually chose, I want to be somewhere that I can help patients and enjoy work every day.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue medical school?

A: At the end of my freshman year of college I saw medicine as a potential field that I may be interested in.  I began volunteering in an emergency room and I became an EMT. These experiences made me realize how interesting and fun I found medicine to be, and I decided during my sophomore year that I wanted to become a physician.

Q: What did you do this summer to prepare (or to take a break from school)?

A: I prepared for medical school this summer by taking a complete mental and physical break. I spent a lot of time with my family and did some traveling. This break made me really excited to start school, and I think it was the best way to prepare for the next four challenging years.

Q: What do you think will be the most difficult part about your first year in medical school?
A: I think that the most difficult part of my first year will be adjusting to being just a student. I will need to put all of my time and energy into school, where previously I had always had multiple things to focus on. I am used to thinking about school, swimming, volunteering, and everything else. This will be the first time that I can put all of my work into school.

Q: How do you feel like your background as a high-level swimmer will help you as you pursue high-level post-graduate work?

A: There are so many ways that swimming has prepared me to be a better medical student. I have learned how to best manage my time. Also, the dedication, hard work and toughness that swimming required have taught me how to not only push though hard situations but to thrive in them. And it has also taught me that people are capable of much more than they ever thought they could be. I was always surprised at the end of a season at how much my teammates and I could accomplish. This has shown me that I can do more than I give myself credit for.

Swimmers spend time cooking at Ronald McDonald House

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University of Nevada swimmers Erin Fuss, Leslie Foley and Jocelin Drennan along with head coach Abby Steketee and assistant coach Steve Steketee volunteered for the Chef Program at the Ronald McDonald House over the weekend. 

The swimmers made chicken pot pies and cupcakes from scratch for the families staying at the house.  Adding a little touch to the pot pies were Mickey Mouse designs on top.  Coach supplied the ingredients and the swimmers supplied the culinary skills.


Nevada Swim and Dive Helps at Balloon Races

The University of Nevada swimming and diving team volunteered at the Reno Balloon Races for the second straight year this week.


On Thursday, 10 members of the team spent time at the E.L. Cord tissue paper balloon launch, seeing some of the balloons off with local children.


The stop early Thursday was the first in a line of pending community service appearances for the group. The entire team (22 student-athletes) is scheduled to work at the Truckee Tough Mudder on September 28.  Then on October 21 several of the Pack's international student-athletes will participate in Reading Day at a local middle school - they'll each read something aloud in their native language.


Later this Fall the group will meet its pen pals from a local middle school.  Coach Abby Steketee was on of two recipients of Nevada's Give Back Like Jack award earlier in 2013. The award is given to members of the Nevada staff that demonstrate exceptional community service records.



Swimmers Honored in Post-Season Publication


Nikki Longland and Erin Fuss were honored in the 2012-13 College Swimming and Diving Honors, a publication that recognizes the best in collegiate swim and dive in a host of categories.

Longland was listed as one of the best walk-on athletes in the country, while Fuss was named in the special honors section of the annual publication. Longland, a junior and native of Sparks, Nevada, will return to the Pack for her senior season in 2013-14. Fuss has only competed in one full season for Nevada and will be a sophomore next year.

Longland dropped an astonishing 42 seconds off her 400 IM time this season, posting a personal best of 4:22.71 at the Mountain West Championships. A versatile swimmer, she also dropped more than seven seconds off her 200-yard breaststroke time at the season-ending event, swimming a 2:18.39 in San Antonio. Fuss lowered her personal best in three events in her freshman season, making the biggest improvement in the 200 IM. She went from 2:18.17 to 2:07.62.

The complete publication can be found at

Swimming and Diving Volunteers at Animal Ark

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Head Coach Abby Steketee and her husband, volunteer assistant Steve Steketee, pose with the team in front of a wall they built while volunteering at Animal Ark on Saturday.

Head coach Steketee shared her thoughts on the volunteer experience.

"A group of nine from Nevada Swimming & Diving volunteered at the Animal Ark over the weekend.  We worked on the Bear Rehab Enclosure for orphaned cubs to use this winter and spring.  For the most part, we used branches and sticks burned in a fire in the late 1990s to build a wall so that the bears can't see visitors; Animal Ark doesn't want the cubs to become too humanized...the goal is to release them into the wild," she said.

Nevada swimming and diving has made an impact on the community this Fall, led by first-year head coach Abby Steketee. To date, the Wolf Pack has worked at the Reno Balloon Races, the Tough Mudder and now with Animal Ark since athletes arrived on campus in August.

Nevada Swimming and Diving Works the "Tough Mudder"

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Head coach Abby Steketee offers her thoughts on a wild weekend at the Tough Mudder at the Northstar Ski Resort. On Saturday, all of Nevada's swimming and diving student-athletes worked the event, generating funds for the program and helping out members of the community in the process.

"We worked in various capacities from registration to checking bags and cheering on the participants at obstacles. The event had nearly 15,000 participants (many dressed in costume) and the day was long and dusty. However, everyone had a great time helping the racers and learning about on of the craziest endurance events in the country," she said.

A force in the community, Nevada swimming and diving continues to have a strong presence at events such as the Tough Mudder.

Head Swim Coach Abby Steketee on the Summer Olympics

Nevada head swimming and diving coach Abby Steketee joined the Wolf Pack staff at the beginning of July and comes to Nevada after spending the last four seasons at the University of South Carolina. She coached six athletes at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials this June, and her husband, Steve, who will serve as Nevada's volunteer assistant coach, also has experience with Olympic swimmers. Steketee offers a great perspective on this year's Summer Olympics in London in this guest blog:

Since I was about seven years old, I've marked time in four-year intervals:  1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London.  I am, of course, talking about the Olympic Games and my dream of participating in them.  This summer, I took a large step toward that dream when I coached six athletes to the U.S. Olympic Trials held in Omaha, Neb.  The Olympic Trials themselves were fantastic, but it was the journey leading to that meet that makes me so proud.  For no athlete--or coach--is the journey a perfect upward progression; instead, it's a journey of ups and downs that requires athletes to stay focused on the goal, keep faith in themselves, rely on teammates, and as Winston Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up."

None of my swimmers at the U.S. Olympic Trials qualified for the London Games, but I am proud to have several friends and acquaintances there.  On top of the list is the bronze medalist from the 1988 Olympic Games, Sergio Lopez.  He coached my husband, Steve, at Northwestern University, has been my professional mentor for more than 10 years and served as a groomsmen in our wedding.  Now he is the head coach of Singapore's Olympic team as well as the personal coach to two American Olympians, Charlie Houchin (800 Freestyle Relay) and Ariana Kukors (200 IM).  I'm also extremely proud of Michael Walker, a swimmer I helped coach at West Virginia University, who is on the pool deck in London as an assistant coach of Brazil's National Team.

And finally, I was overjoyed to see Matt Grevers become Olympic Champion in the 100 Backstroke, not just because we are both Northwestern alumni but because my husband was one of his high school coaches in Illinois.  Matt made the most of his first Olympic experience back in 2008 when he won a silver medal in the 100 Back.  But 2010-11 were disappointing years for him as he struggled to find joy in swimming underneath the pressure of being expected to win all the time.  Nevertheless, Matt stuck to his journey and learned to view the pressure as "living the dream"; in other words, he looked at his pursuit of a gold medal as a wonderful, unique opportunity instead of a life-or-death event.  Plus, he nailed one of the best proposals ever when he asked Annie Chandler (another swimmer) to marry him at the Missouri Grand Prix in February.  If watching Matt win his gold last night wasn't enough for you, take a look at this clip of the proposal.

Being an Olympian isn't about having one spectacular moment, it's about pressing forward on a journey through many moments, no matter how high or low.


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