By Molly Hulsey
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Ask Missouri swimming coach Brian Hoffer about senior Kim Jasmer, his star transfer, and he shakes his head.
"We've had some pretty good transfers, but none to her degree before," Hoffer said.
The appreciation is mutual. For Jasmer, a standout athlete who completed a biology degree and the first three years of her eligibility at the University of Washington, her transfer to Mizzou has been a storybook ending to a storied career.
"It's been somewhat of a fairytale," Jasmer said. "I love Mizzou. I really can't complain about anything ... well, except for the coffee."
A high-school six-time All-American and 2005 Oregon state swimmer of the year and valedictorian of her senior class, Jasmer was highly sought after by college programs. She chose the University of Washington, a school fairly close to home, and enrolled there in 2005.
In her time with the Huskies, Jasmer served as the cornerstone of a struggling swimming program that would eventually be disbanded. As a sophomore, she single-handedly led the Huskies to a 35th place national finish. Individually, she qualified for NCAA Championships in the 200-, 500-, and 1,650-yard freestyle events.
However, after a slightly less prolific junior season and a slight difference in opinion with the coaching staff, Jasmer opted to spend her senior year swimming with a club team and save her last year of eligibility for graduate school.
"I had aspirations that I had not yet achieved," Jasmer said. "When I realized that if I started graduate school immediately I could use my last year of eligibility, I knew I had to take the opportunity or I would forever regret it. I enjoyed my undergraduate experience at Washington. But I had received my degree, had some success in the pool, and had some life changing experiences. It was time to move on to the next chapter of my life."
Jasmer was immediately drawn to the biology department at Missouri, as well as the potential of their swim team. A graduate student with a focus in cancer research, she found Mizzou a perfect fit both academically and athletically. After speaking with several of the team's coaches, Jasmer decided to join the school's graduate program and the swim team.
"I had complete faith that the coaches could help make my unfulfilled dreams become reality," Jasmer said. "I have a pretty good relationship with the coaches and they are very open to discussion as to what I need to improve."
Hoffer was excited to welcome Jasmer to a young team that had just graduated 12 seniors.
"I think she brings a confidence," Hoffer said. "She's going to bring something to the table that you can't have most of the time, unless you have seniors in the program. She's been to NCAAs, she's been to the Olympic Trials, and she's been to those big meets."
Jasmer's impact has been quickly felt. The Tigers have won five of eight invites so far and finished third in Big 12 Relays. While Jasmer has won several races of her own, she finds the most satisfaction out of inspiring her teammates.
"I have swam with some amazing swimmers at all levels and I've tried to convince these girls that they are just as good as many of those NCAA qualifying and scoring individuals that I've trained with in the past," Jasmer said. "The only difference is confidence. I hope that by genuinely believing in the success of this team, I can make a difference in the outcome for these hard working ladies."
After completing her four-year Ph.D, Jasmer hopes to become a research professor and continue her cancer research. Her Olympic aspirations, however, remain intact as well, and she plans to continue swimming after the season. She plans to continue training with the Missouri team that has welcomed her with open arms.
"I love how protective the team is of one another," Jasmer said. "This team is full of proud and passionate athletes. Most importantly, they took in an old lady and let me have a second chance to achieve my dreams. I will be forever grateful for that."