Throwback Thursday: Amy Gruber-Burgess

Nov. 18, 2010

Amy Gruber-Burgess (swimming and diving, 2002-05)

Amy Gruber-Burgess is one of the most accomplished swimmers in Kansas history. In 2005, she set a school record in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:47.01 at the Big 12 Championships. She is also in the top three in school history in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle, and the 100-yard butterfly. Gruber-Burgess and three of her teammates set the school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 2004 with a time of 3:22.29. Gruber-Burgess received numerous accolades including Newcomer of the Year for the 2001-02 season, Big 12 Swimmer of the Month for November of 2002 and 2004, and NCAA Swimmer of the Week in November of 2004. She also received the Tammy Thomas MVP Award in 2002, 2004, and 2005. Gruber-Burgess was also recognized for her academic excellence receiving the Jayhawk and Big 12 Scholar Athlete honor all four years of her career. Named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s List and the University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics Director’s Honor Roll all four years, she received the KU Senior Female Student-Athlete of the Year honor for the 2004-05 season. Gruber-Burgess is currently residing in Little Rock, Ark., with her husband, where she serves as the head swimming and diving coach at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.

What stood out most about KU?

The tradition. The tradition of the program and just the dedication and the love that everybody had for it was something that I really noticed and enjoyed.”

What were some of your favorite memories as a student-athlete?

“Of course anything I ever got to do with the team was always a blast. Our conference championships in Olathe were a great memory. Those things always stand out in my mind as highlights. Obviously basketball and football games were always a blast. Being down on Mass Street and just hanging out and getting to know everybody around town was fun.”

What do you miss most about KU?

“I’d say I miss being a part of something that is bigger than you. I miss being able to contribute to not only a team, but an entire athletic department, as well.”

Can you talk a little bit about your life since you graduated?

“I have gotten married. I am currently the head women’s swimming and diving coach at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. I love coaching. It took me about a year after I graduated to realize how much I missed swimming and being a part of the swimming world. I had a fantastic opportunity to take an assistant position here and I did that for a year, then I got promoted up to the head position.”

What is one thing you knew at the end of your career that you wish you had known going in?

“Probably how much I could have pushed myself. I think that took me a while to figure out. Just knowing how to be determined and how to push my limits is something I wish I had known early on.”

Do you still keep in touch with some of your former teammates?

“Yes I do. Pretty regularly, of course people get busy with their lives and it’s not as regular as you would hope. But, I try to keep in touch as often as I can.”

Was it difficult balancing your athletic career with other aspects of college?

“It was a big challenge. Growing up as a swimmer and a student-athlete, balancing my time was something I kind of had learned growing up, so I was able to handle that. Of course the support they had at KU was unbelievable and that helped out a ton. The academic support and all the resources we had available were really valuable.”

If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to make it as a student-athlete, what would you tell them?

“I would probably tell them to never give up. You’re going to have your hard days. You’re also going to have your easier days where you feel great, but it’s important to never give up and always push yourself, because you never know when it’s going to be over. I think that is one of the surprising things that I miss most about swimming at the college level. I never realized how much fun it was to push yourself and see what you could do on a daily basis in either practice or competitions.”