Krisie Melsen (Inducted 2020)

As a member of the Minnesota Masters Swimming Community, Krisie Melsen is an Athlete, a Volunteer, and a Coach.  She trains and competes, she has served on the Minnesota Masters Swimming Board of Directors as well as on the United States Masters Swimming “Championship” national committee, and she coaches high school swimmers, adult masters swimmers and triathletes.  She loves the sport, but even more she loves the camaraderie of Masters Swimming.  Listening to Krisie talk about her swimming career, every story is filled with the names of the people that shared the experience with her, and she even has current contact information for every one of her coaches, going back over 30 years.

Even though she is still young, Krisie has demonstrated that she belongs in the Minnesota Masters Swimming Hall of Fame with her swimming performance as well as her volunteer leadership.  She holds 25 State records (17 individual & 8 relay), she has been on the National Top10 list 71 times (50 individual & 21 relay), and has appeared on that list every year for the past 14 years, and is a 3-time All American in the 100 breast (meaning she swam the fastest time in her age group that year), and even has a FINA international Top 10 time.  She was the founding chair of the Minnesota Masters Swimming Pool Competition committee in 2014 (aka the “meet committee”), and she was instrumental in bringing the 2017 USMS Long Course Nationals meet to Minnesota, and served as the Co-Meet Director for that meet.  She also has a strong track record as a coach and we are excited to watch her coaching career continue to develop in the coming years.

 

There are 5 components of Krisie’s personality that all of her past coaches commented on:

  1. Her STRENGTH
  2. Her JOY and love of CAMARADERIE
  3. Her KNOWLEDGE
  4. Her DISCIPLINE
  5. Her focus on FAITH & FAMILY

Krisie has a large family with a cabin up north at a lake, so she remembers swimming as a kid in the lake for fun and to relax.  Her organized swimming career began as a seven year old, at the Edina Country Club swim team. The program was instructional and included both fun activities and competition.  Krisie's first meet was held at Wayzata Country Club.  She started her first race by diving across the lane line into the adjacent lane.  She was first to the finish line, but didn’t win because she was DQ’d for swimming in the wrong lane!  Kelly Gallagher, a member of the University of Minnesota women's swim team, was her first coach.  Kelly invited Krisie to U of M swim meets, honed her swimming skills and encouraged her to join a year round swim program. Kelly even asked Krisie to be a flower girl in her wedding.   Krisie originally swam in an age group program for the Bloomington Barracudas USS team and later transferred to the Edina Gators USS program.

Krisie had a successful age group career, including swimming in high school and college, then took several years off from swimming.  In 2005, Krisie entered a Masters National Meet, because it was being held in Seattle at a time when she was there on vacation.  She thought it would be no big deal.  She was wrong.  That re-lit her competitive fire, so she started training on her own at the St. Cloud Y, where she was recruited by Marty Moran in 2006 to join a new St. Cloud Masters swimming group.  In 2007 she appeared on the USMS Top10 list, and hasn’t stopped since.

 

• STRENGTH

Krisie is a strong swimmer, and a strong person.  She is not only physically strong, but she also has a strong moral compass.  Her coaches remember her being “powerful”, “passionate” and “confident”.  Even as a little girl, Krisie tried to be a leader and raised the bar for her teammates each and every practice

TRAINING

As an athlete, Krisie puts in the work, but she goes to swim practice to connect with teammates as well as to train.  At Minnetonka, she and Miles (Elizabeth Hanson) usually have a running conversation going for the entire workout.  Her age-group coaches remember her always being present and ready to go.  One commented “A real lead by example athlete!”.

• JOY & CAMARADERIE

If you’ve spent any time with Krisie, you know she is positive and friendly.  She loves to hear a joke of the day, or to celebrate weird holidays.  One of her teams had a monthly breakfast.  Her coach remembers her walking in with a gallon if ice cream to share (she also loves ice cream, by the way); it was National Eat Ice Cream For Breakfast Day (first Saturday in February) and Krisie couldn’t miss celebrating that.

In addition to being relationship driven, she has a giving heart.  Back in 1994, while swimming for Benilde-St. Margaret for Scott Tripps, she was on a relay that broke the state 200 Medley Relay Record.  She received a trophy with a broken 45 record on top (get it – a broken record?!), which she still has.  That record has been broken many times since, but this year one of the high school girls that Krisie coaches was part of a relay that set a new state record in the 200 Medley Relay.  25 years later, Krisie is re-gifting her old trophy to that swimmer to commemorate the swim, and the relationship.

BEST RACE

If you ask Krisie what her best race was, she will say the MIAC meet her sophomore year of college. She swam the 100 fly and 100 breast.  I’m sure her times were fast, but what she remembers is not her times, but that fact that it was a home meet with lots of family and friends on deck, and that the natatorium was packed and loud and full of energy. 

WORST RACE

Her worst race was the first (and also last!) time she raced 200 fly at a meet.  It was in 1998 during her senior year.  She went out in about a 1:03, and came back in about a 1:21.  She went fast enough to make the finals, but was done racing 200 fly so she scratched!

COMPETITION

Krisie loves to race. She is a fierce competitor, while fully respecting and valuing those with whom she is competing.  She started as a backstroke and butterfly specialist and only added breaststroke in 1999.  Her college coach needed more breaststrokers and asked Krisie to try it and said yes since it meant she could train with her friend Katie Kuhlmann who was the only other breaststroker at that time..  As a Masters Swimmer, she has swum faster than her college times

In the early 90’s while at Edina, she was one of 9 swimmers to travel to Austria to participate in a swim camp with a larger group.  They hiked in the afternoons and played a game called “number wars” (which is a bit like capture the flag). The game became very intense and competitive. Each day as they walked home, her coach remembers them dissecting the game in order to win the next day’s contest.  If you need someone strong, determined, smart and competitive (with levity) on your team, Krisie fits the mold.

• KNOWLEDGE

She is focused at the pool on what things are important. Not just there for yardage but to swim with intent - she always has a plan when doing a workout to focus on what is important within the set being done.   She has always been a hard worker but mostly a diligent student of the sport. 

She is eager to learn new things but it is apparent that she wants to know not only for herself but also to help others in the future.  Even as an age-grouper, when a new coach unexpectedly took over at Edina, Krisie took that in stride and kept an open mind to new ways of thinking and new coaching styles, even providing the new coach interesting workout sets for the team to do.  Swimmers don't usually contribute in this way.  

FAVORITE POOL

Her favorite pool is the pool at St. John’s University.

WORST POOL

The worst pool she ever swam in is the old pool (that no longer exists) at the University of St. Thomas.

COACHING

Krisie started coaching in junior high, after asking her coaches at Edina Swim Club if she could help out with the younger kids and being hired as a assistant.  She continued to coach while at college, helping out with swim lessons and summer swim camp.  After college graduation she helped Jeff Lee at Bloomington.  In 2004 she followed her passion for coaching when she was hired at her alma mater St. Benedict as an assistant coach.  She coached the St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders high school team for 8 years.  In 2014 received the level 1 & 2 coach certifications from USMS.  In recent years, Krisie has made coaching her profession, switching careers to be a full time strength & endurance coach.  She has a lot of loyal clients because she is a good communicator and wants to help others accomplish their goals. 

FAITH & FAMILY

Krisie is able to be such a genuine and authentic person, in part because of her strong grounding in her faith and her family.  She is a devoted daughter, sister, granddaughter, and aunt.  Krisie remembers her dad always having a schedule and a map showing how to get to Mass at the local Catholic church from whichever pool they were competing in.  At weekend meets, if the timing was tight, she would simply throw on a parka over her swim suit and jump in the car after one event, go attend mass, then come back to the pool and swim the next event.

Her younger brother John remembers Krisie’s leadership teaching him the intricacies of competitive swimming.  Krisie’s other siblings (Michelle and Matt), who did not share Krisie’s passion for swimming, have very different memories.  They recall countless hours in the upper balconies of the UofM aquatic center making bead necklaces and bracelets and playing video games waiting for her to finish swimming.

FUNNIEST MEMORY

Krisie’s funnies memory is from the same high school trip to Austria, but she doesn’t remember playing “number wars”, she remembers the boys playing pranks on the girls, so the girls got them back by replacing their shampoo with yogurt the afternoon of the banquet.

VOLUNTEERING

Krisie started volunteering for Minnesota masters Swimming  in 2013.  The next year, in 2014, she founded the Pool Competition (“Meet”) Committee and chaired  it for two years.  She served as Vice Chair and as Chair, and was instrumental in bringing the 2017 Summer Nationals Long Course meet to Minnesota, and served as the Co-Meet Director of that meet, and followed that up by serving on the USMS national “Championship” Committee in 2018.

MOST MEMORABLE MEET

Her most memorable meet is Spring short course Nationals in San Antonio Texas.  Not just because she swam fast, but because there was big group of swimmers from Minnesota and lots of camaraderie.

 

  • DISCIPLINE

Krisie is persistent, consistent and tenacious.  She always has a plan and a strategy.  She is a hard-working, focused, team-mate.  She challenges herself and others to do things well.  She sets goals and diligently works to achieve them. Krisie is a pleasure to coach because of the joy and work-ethic that she brings to the pool.

Krisie is a naturally talented athlete, but it is her preparation and focus that make her a champion.   She is a student of the sport and she has the determination to put in the work.  Swimming started as a fun distraction, became a vocation, and now  is something she needs for mental and physical health.  But it is the community that keeps her coming back.  Masters Swimming programs are about the people, and Krisie loves to teach, but mostly she loves to share in the journey and to have fun with other swimmers along the way.

Krisie Melsen, welcome to the Minnesota Masters Swimming Hall of Fame – it is a well deserved honor!

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About Minnesota Masters Swimming

Minnesota Masters Swimming LMSC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to a healthy swimming lifestyle for adult swimmers within 87 counties in Minnesota and 3 in Western Wisconsin. It is the local governing body for United States Masters Swimming (USMS).

There are 1,172 registered swimmers in the Minnesota LMSC and over 60,000 nationwide. Anyone 18 years of age or older is eligible to join. No prior competitive swimming experience is necessary.

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