Abby Gronholz: The story of an All-American

Ever since she was a little kid in Victoria, Minnesota, Abby Gronholz always found herself around water. 

The Minnesota State women’s swimmer finished second and earned All-American honors at the NCAA Championships Friday. 

Gronholz set a personal best and school record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 53.66.

“It was unreal. I was in a state of shock. I finished and I had no clue as to what I finished before looking at the board. When I saw it said second, I was just elated. The best part of those races is being able to look at your coaches and teammates who are just ecstatic on the pool deck,” Gronholz said. 

This is the second time that Gronholz has achieved All-American honors at the 100 backstroke event. Last season, she earned seventh place with a time of 54.71. 

Whether it was at a lake or a swimming pool, Gronholz always had a fondness for swimming. Things took a turn once she began to swim competitively.

“Once I started competitive swimming in middle school, it introduced an additional element of challenge and competition to the sport. Setting goals, whether it’s beating personal records, qualifying for meets and achieving specific times was highly motivating for me,” Gronholz said. 

Gronholz’s dad played baseball at Augustana University and St. Cloud State University, and her siblings played sports as well, which meant she was always in a sports-loving environment. 

“My family always played sports growing up. My sister and I did softball and basketball, and my brother played baseball. My parents were always very supportive of all of us in our athletic endeavors. I played softball all my life, and it was a difficult decision between the two as to what I would play in college. But regardless of which sport I chose, both of my parents were very supportive and encouraging,” Gronholz said. 

Due to getting into competitive swimming later than most, she didn’t need to find a professional swimmer to show her the ropes.

When deciding what her future beyond high school would be, she narrowed her options down to Minnesota State and another school.  

“My recruitment process was very different. I went through it during COVID, so there were many restrictions with being on campus, and overnight visits. I was down between MSU and another school, but ultimately chose MSU after my official visit I had with my coaches,” Gronholz said. 

She believed that the coaches at MSU could help her reach her full potential, and push her to build on her mental and physical toughness. 

“There has never been a doubt in my decision. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Maverick,” Gronholz said. 

Gronholz’s freshman year wasn’t easy for her as she thought about calling it quits on swimming on multiple occasions. Her joy for swimming and training schedule helped keep her distracted from outside noise. 

“My freshman year was pretty brutal mentally for me. I had lots of times where I wanted to quit from things that had nothing to do with swimming. Thankfully, I had teammates who were there for me, as well as my coaches who helped me navigate my mental health,” Gronholz said. 

Being a part of the MSU swim team has given Gronholz a sense of belonging. The team is full of people that have similar goals to her and she has built friendships that will last her a lifetime. 

The Minnesota State junior is a political science major and is double minoring in english and ethnic studies. 

“I fell in love with law, and I am hoping to attend law school after my four years here at MSU,” Gronholz said. 

As for next season, one of her biggest goals is to take the crown as national champion in the 100 backstroke. 

“My coaches have implemented some training changes, and I’m excited to see how those

work. It would be amazing to win conference my last year. I was able to be a part of the team my freshman year when we won, and it would be an amazing send out,” Gronholz said. 

Header Photo: The Victoria, Minnesota native’s favorite moment on the Minnesota State swim team was when they went to Hawaii to train.She described the experience as  a “once in a lifetime” trip. (Courtesy Abby Gronholz)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at mohamed.warsame@mnsu.edu

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