By the time she was 12, senior Rilye Fries had a game plan for her life.
She wanted to be a collegiate swimmer.
It was a natural decision. Fries had swam for almost her entire life, and she was already in the top of her age group at her swim academy, KC Blazers. Her older sister, Marston, was beginning to be recruited by colleges.
So when Fries made her verbal commitment to the University of Nebraska last week, it didn’t come as a surprise. It was simply the realization of a six-year dream — filled with 5:30 a.m. practices and meets across the country — that was finally coming true.
“When I went to Nebraska, there wasn’t a single thing I disliked,” Fries said. “My visit made it so obvious that this school was the place for me, and I honestly couldn’t be happier to make my decision and know my home for the next four years.”
The recruiting process for Fries began in the midst of junior year. She trained for six hours a day, with practices before and after school. The competitive atmosphere of the Blazers club pushed Fries to grow as a swimmer, but it also meant spending most of her free time in the pool.
“The workload is crazy, it’s a huge commitment,” Fries said. “But when you commit to something that you love, you just have to stick with it. And you grow to love the work.”
Fries fell in love with Nebraska at her first official visit in Sept. She spent the weekend with the swim team, staying overnight in their dorms and eating meals with her future teammates. Several of the girls on the Nebraska team were past Blazers swimmers, and this made Fries feel even more at home.
The pools were also “the best in the country” according to Fries, and the combination of the inviting atmosphere and the high-class coaching and facilities made the decision easy for Fries.
“I had visited several other schools, but when I got to Nebraska, I just knew,” Fries said. “There’s a moment where you look around and think, ‘I could spend the next four years of my life here,’ and that’s when I knew it was time to commit.”