Water wizard lands dual scholarship
There are two-sport athletes, and then there is Tianna Kosek.
The Buffalo High School senior will be recognized on Wednesday, April 10 at the BHS gymnasium when she joins some fellow classmates to sign their National Letter of Intent to participate in collegiate athletics.
A three-time state qualifier in girls’ swimming in high school, Kosek reached the podium for the first time last fall when she placed sixth in the 50 freestyle.
Kosek’s talent as a sprinter in the pool didn’t go unnoticed, particularly from St. Cloud State University, where she is currently in the process of wrapping up her Associate of Arts Degree through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options as a student.
The Huskies are one of a few colleges that heavily pursued Kosek to swim. But it was her talents in another sport that led to her ultimate decision. Florida Southern College (FSC) offered her a dual scholarship, as both a swimmer and water ski jumper.
“It was a tough choice between Florida Southern College and St. Cloud State,” Kosek said. “Ultimately, FSC was giving me the opportunity to compete in two sports I love to do.”
Florida Southern College is located 40 miles east of Tampa Bay in Lakeland, Florida. Kosek will become the first student at FSC to receive a dual scholarship.
Water ski jumping is a Division-I non-sanctioned NCAA sport at FSC. The Moccasins women’s swim/dive team is a Division-II sanctioned sport that competes in the Sunshine State Conference.
“I feel really blessed to be able to compete in two sports that I already loved,” Kosek said. “This will be a new journey for me, but I’m excited to see what happens down the road. It goes to show all the hard work really pays off.”
Kosek says she plans on continuing doing the 50 and 100-yard freestyle events in college. She hopes to also mix in some potential breaststroke and distance events.
In water ski jumping, Kosek is currently ranked fourth in the Junior World Jumping event. What makes her most proud of receiving a scholarship in the sport is the fact not many make it big from the state of Minnesota.
“That’s one of the disadvantages of living in this state,” she said. “The season is so short.”
Kosek began swimming when she was in seventh grade, but summer lakes in Minnesota and family trips to the south during the school season is where she developed her love and talent for the sport of water ski jumping.
“I would train and try and get to Florida during Christmas break and in March for Spring Break,” Kosek said. “I started water ski jumping when I was two years old.”
Water ski jumping is scored in three different categories: Slalom, Trick, and Jumping.
Kosek helped the U.S. Junior Water Ski Team win the gold medal in the 17th Junior Water Ski World Championships on Aug. 2-5, 2018 at the Seseña Water Sports Complex in Seseña, Toledo, Spain. Kosek placed ninth in girls’ jumping with a distance of 120-feet.
“Jumping is my favorite event,” Kosek said. “It’s probably the scariest of the three events, because you hit a five-foot ramp with tons of speed. But it’s super-exciting and really gets your adrenaline going.”
Kosek’s biggest accomplishment in water ski jumping came last August in Maize, Kansas, where she won her first-career national championship in the Girls 3 national jumping event with a distance of 130 feet – three shy of her personal record.
This season will mark her final year of eligibility competing in the Junior World Division. She currently is training for the 60th Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament over Memorial Day weekend on May 24-26 at Callaway Resort & Gardens at Pine Mountain, Georgia. Kosek will also return to Spain this summer to compete in her final year of Junior World Nationals.
“After I graduate, I hope to compete in the Open Women’s Division,” Kosek said. “I’ve done a few open events. Ultimately, I hope to someday compete as a pro where there is money involved. For now, all I can do is keep practicing.”