Amazing Students

Shannon Vreeland

Shannon Vreeland has left her mark in the world of UGA athletics (including an Olympic gold medal), but she also has starred in the classroom and was named the SEC Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Hometown:

Overland Park, Kansas

High School:

Blue Valley West

Degree objective:

A.B. in international affairs, A.B. in economics

Other degrees:

Certificate in Legal Studies

Expected graduation:

December 2014

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

The most significant way I’ve spent my time in college was my participation on UGA’s swimming and diving team. The opportunity to be a part of this team was the main factor in why I chose to attend UGA, and it has been the best part of my experience here. I’ve been fortunate to be on four NCAA Championship relays, a member of the SEC Championship team for all four years I was on the team, and a member of the NCAA Championship team for two of those, which is an experience like no other. I co-captained the team my senior year, which was a huge honor. Swimming on the UGA swim team, I have had the opportunity to train with the best in the world and to be coached by the best coaches in the world. I’ve improved a ton and have gotten the opportunity to swim on numerous international teams, many times with my teammates from UGA. I won an Olympic gold medal in 2012, with former UGA swimmer Allison Schmitt, and won three gold medals at the 2013 World Championships, one of those being an American record as part of the 400-free relay team with another former Bulldog, Megan Romano. My last season swimming for UGA culminated in setting an SEC Championship record in the 200 free, receiving an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and being named the Boyd McWhorter SEC Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, which was one of the greatest honors I’ve ever received.

I’ve gotten to know people outside of the world of UGA athletics through my involvement in the Omicron Delta Kappa national honor society. Being a member of the executive board for ODK and the meetings with that organization have been some of my favorite times outside of swimming at UGA. I’ve also been a member of the Student Government Association, Palladia and Blue Key, which have all absolutely enriched my experience here.

Other awards include the Bernard B. Ramsey Scholarship for Academic and Athletic Excellence, recipient of the Lisa Coole Memorial Scholarship, recipient of a Legal Studies Faculty Award, finalist for the Terry Alumni Board Student of the Year, First Team CSCAA Scholar All-American, and Capital One Academic All-America Division 1 Second Team at Large.

Current Employment:

Professional swimmer

Family Ties to UGA:

Being from Kansas, I was the first member of my family to attend UGA!

I chose to attend UGA because…

I took a few trips to other schools and after only a few hours at UGA I knew it was where I wanted to go. The Honors program at UGA is fantastic as is the sense of community. I attended a football game in the rain and the stadium was packed from start to finish with screaming, cheering fans in ponchos and the school spirit really left an impression on me. On top of all of that, the swim team and UGA coaches are world class. I could not have found a better fit.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

Saturday football games are certainly on top of the list. I take huge pride in being a Georgia Bulldog and there is nothing like an SEC football game! I also love studying or reading on North Campus between classes or sitting at Jittery Joe’s or outside of Walker’s and catching up with friends.

When I have free time, I like…

Between classes, swimming and extracurricular activities, I haven’t had a ton of free time these past four years, but I’ve come to love bingo or trivia nights, concerts on campus or at the Georgia Theatre and simply relaxing at home with friends, reading or watching some TV.

The craziest thing I've done is…

… set an American record with one of my swimming idols. Though I was on the Olympic team with Natalie Coughlin, being able to swim a relay with her and win gold and set an American record on that relay was one of the craziest things I’ve had the opportunity to do. As a young swimmer growing up, I used to read swimming magazines and see pictures of the great U.S. athletes and aspire to be like them, and as one of the great role models and best U.S. swimmers in history, Natalie was always one of those. Getting to be on a relay and experience something really special with someone I’ve idolized for years and years was so meaningful.

My favorite place to study is…

Walker’s is my favorite place for a variety of reasons and studying is one. I really enjoy both the atmosphere and the giant mugs of coffee.

My favorite professor is…

… David Mustard in the economics department. I randomly picked him as my Honors faculty mentor freshman year before I even had economics as a major and I have taken a few of his classes since then. He’s had great advice during my four years here and even takes the extra time to check out how swim meets are going and send a quick email of support after exceptionally good or exceptionally tough meets.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… family members. I only see my grandparents once a year and I rarely see my family. I’m constantly training or competing and I haven’t had the opportunity to see my family as much as I’d like. Usually when seeing family members it’s in a rushed afternoon with a lot going on, trying to fit seeing everyone into the one or two days I have at home during break. I’d just like a relaxing afternoon to catch up and enjoy time with my favorite people.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… participate on “The Amazing Race.” I love traveling, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit many really interesting places through my sport, but when at an international competition, we usually only get to see the hotel, the training pool, the competition pool and whatever we can see during the bus ride there. So if we couldn’t fail, it would be fun to grab a friend or family member and travel the world and participate in tons of different experiences on a reality show.

After graduation, I plan to…

… continue training here at UGA. I’ve exhausted my eligibility and signed with a swimsuit company through the next couple of years and there’s nowhere I would rather be than at the University of Georgia. I plan to attend law school eventually so I may try to take a couple of classes here and there, but I’ll mostly be training and competing for the next few years, living my dream of getting to do the thing I love full time.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… winning the NCAA Championship for UGA with my team. My junior year, going into the last relay we knew we were going to win and we got up knowing that if we played it safe, our team would still win. We were all so excited to have finally reached our biggest goal that everyone absolutely swam their hearts out and we set the NCAA and U.S. Open record in the 400-free relay. The team ran over after the race and there was a lot of hugging and screaming and celebrating. We won and went out with a bang and it was the perfect ending to the perfect meet with a fantastic team.

Published Sunday,