clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Gay swimmer wins race and signs autographs at World University Games

College roundup: Volleyball coach gets big wins, football players get big tackles.

Ayrton Kasemets
Ayrton Kasemets also swims for Oakland Univ.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Each day, they opened the doors early for grade school students to enter National Taiwan Sport University Arena before the rest of the spectators.

On the day of his second race at the World University Games, swimmer Ayrton Kasemets was along the edge of the spectator section.

A swarm of young kids ran towards Kasemets and his Estonia teammates. They pleaded for autographs and pictures as if they had found One Direction.

“We were the lucky ones that we were sitting right by the railing during warmups,” said Kasemets, who came out publicly as gay in 2015. “They were trying to get any and all of the autographs that they could from anyone that they could see.”

The fan interest for men’s swimming was one of the many highlights for Kasemets as he competed at the World University Games, which took place Aug. 18 to 30 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Kasemets signed a girl’s hat and another girl’s swimsuit that she brought before starting his preparation for that day’s race. His teammates that weren’t racing that day signed autographs for nearly 20 minutes.

Throughout the eight days of the swimming competition, Kasemets said the lower bowl of the arena was full most days. The excitement carried over to the races.

“There were a lot of young electricity in the pool, because there were so many kids,” Kasemets said. “That was really electrifying. Whenever there was a Taiwanese swimmer in the water, the whole crowd and the whole place would erupt.”

It was the first international competition for Kasemets, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Estonia, his parents’ home country.

“It felt really awesome, because it had always been a goal and a dream of mine to swim at an international meet and represent Estonia,” Kasemets said. “It was humbling.”

He opened the competition Aug. 20 by winning his heat of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1 minute, 5.25 seconds — five-hundredths shy of his personal record.

He then finished second in his heat of the 50 breaststroke (30.09 seconds) on Aug. 24, took fourth in his heat of the 200 breaststroke (2:27.24) on Aug. 22, and helped the Estonia 4x100 medley relay finish seventh in its heat (3:52.80) on Aug. 26.

Throughout his time with the Estonia swimmers, he felt welcomed.

“My team’s reaction to my LGBT status was incredibly positive and accepting,” Kasemets said.

Kasemets, who is entering his senior year at Oakland University, returned to Michigan and moved into a new apartment Aug. 31. He’s now focused on having a successful final season with the Golden Grizzlies.

“I have never gone into season in this great of shape before and this level of confidence,” Kasemets said. “I’m going to set ambitious goals, and why not? … I want to finish out my years at Oakland at the peak of my performances.”

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT.

Division I

Xavier Colvin (redshirt sophomore, Butler football) recorded two solo tackles and one assisted tackle in Saturday’s 45-0 season-opening loss at Illinois State.

Kendall Covington (senior, Penn women’s volleyball) recorded the match-clinching kill in Friday’s four-set win against Central Michigan, and she had nine kills in that match. She had 11 kills in Friday’s season-opening five-set loss to Campbell, and Covington had nine kills in Saturday’s three-set win against George Mason that improved Penn to 2-1 overall.

Scott Frantz (redshirt sophomore, Kansas State football) started Saturday at left tackle in the Wildcats’ 55-19 season-opening win against Central Arkansas. Kansas State had 223 rushing yards in the win.

Hannah Griffiths Boston (senior, Portland women’s soccer) attempted two shots over four games as the Pilots (2-4 overall) went 1-3 the last two weeks. Portland’s win came against UC Davis 1-0 on Aug. 25.

My-King Johnson (freshman, Arizona football) announced Saturday on Facebook that he is redshirting this season. “It was my decision because I didn’t want to waste a year of eligibility. I’m gonna use this year to get bigger, faster and stronger,” Johnson said. Arizona won Saturday’s opener against Northern Arizona 62-42

Sonia Johnson (senior, DePaul women’s soccer) played in three of four matches as the Blue Demons (2-4 overall) went 2-2 the last two weeks. Johnson played 57 minutes in DePaul’s 5-0 win against Akron on Aug. 25.

Jake Leffew (junior, Yale men’s golf) will not be competing for Yale during the fall semester, because he is studying abroad in Spain. He plans to rejoin the Yale golf team during the spring semester.

Alexis Lewandowski (junior, IUPUI women’s cross country) finished 16th and Kelsey Tyler (senior, IUPUI women’s cross country) placed eighth at Friday’s season-opening Butler Twilight meet. They helped IUPUI’s women’s team take second in the four-team meet. Tyler’s 5-kilometer time was 18 minutes, 54.7 seconds, and Lewandowski ran 19:25.8.

EJ Proctor (senior, Duke women’s soccer) recorded her first solo shutout of the season in Sunday’s 2-0 win against Auburn. The No. 13-ranked Blue Devils (5-1 overall) went 4-0 the last two weeks, with Proctor starting three of the four games.

Cavender Salvadori (redshirt senior, William & Mary men’s cross country) did not run in Saturday’s season-opening meet at Richmond. Salvadori is recovering from a fracture in his hip, which he revealed on Instagram on July 3.

Max Showalter (junior, Purdue men’s diving) announced Aug. 25 on social media that he decided to retire from diving as the result of a back injury he suffered in May.

Drew Davis (assistant coach, Creighton women’s volleyball) saw the No. 7-ranked Bluejays open the season 5-1 overall with wins against No. 3 Washington and No. 13 Kentucky. Creighton’s lone loss came Saturday in three sets against No. 18 Southern California.

James Finley (head coach, Seattle women’s volleyball) led the Redhawks to a 1-5 record overall to start the year. Seattle’s win came in its opener Aug. 25 against Loyola-Chicago.

Jessica Smith (assistant coach, Kansas State women’s soccer) saw the Wildcats (2-2-1 overall) go 2-1 the last two weeks.

Division III

Alec Donovan (redshirt sophomore, Centenary men’s cross country) opened the season Saturday with an 8-kilometer time of 38:28 to place 23rd at the CSAC Preview Race in Coatsville, Pennsylvania.

Michael Dumaine (senior, Hanover men’s soccer) started both games on defense and played 179 of 180 minutes in the first two games of the season as Hanover went 1-1. After a 2-0 loss Friday to DePauw, Hanover beat Thomas More 3-1 on Sunday for its first win of the year.

Lindsey Farrell (junior, McDaniel women’s soccer) recorded a shot on goal in the Green Terror’s 1-0 win Saturday against Shenandoah. No. 16-ranked McDaniel lost Friday’s season opener 5-0 to No. 4-ranked William Smith.

Jason Hadley (junior, Mount Union men’s cross country) ran 28:09.46 for 8 kilometers to finish 47th in Friday’s season-opening Ric Sayre Invitational in North Canton, Ohio.

Sam Johnson (sophomore, Whittier men’s soccer) came off the bench in Friday’s season-opening 3-1 loss to Vanguard.

Wyatt Pertusett (sophomore, Capital football) underwent surgery Aug. 28 to repair a Lisfranc dislocation, which is a foot injury.

Taylor Reifert (junior, Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer) scored the second goal in the Sagehens’ 2-0 season-opening win Friday against Willamette. Reifert’s goal in the 66th minute came on a shot from outside the goal box. Reifert transferred to Pomona-Pitzer from Lawrence in the offseason.

Ricardo Vasquez (men’s swimming) said he will not be returning to Mary Washington this school year to swim.

Nick Vucovich (senior, Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross country) began the season Saturday with an 8-kilometer race at Claremont, California. He ran 26:47.5 to finish 39th of 199 runners. Pitzer took third in the 10-team field.

NAIA

Maria Berrum (junior, Robert Morris women’s soccer) started in Robert Morris’ 1-0 loss to Grand View on Aug. 26. Berrum didn’t play in Robert Morris’ 3-2 loss Aug. 27 to Graceland. She logged a shot in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to MidAmerica Nazarene.

Kyle Kurdziolek (junior, St. Francis football) recorded one solo tackle and four assisted tackles during St. Francis’ 41-24 season-opening loss to No. 4-ranked Morningside on Aug. 26.

Darrion McAlister (senior, Marian football) was not listed as playing in the No. 5-ranked Knights’ 32-27 season-opening loss to No. 24-ranked St. Xavier on Aug. 31.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.