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July 14, 2014

Former Eisenhower swimmer, Prentis, has earned All-America status

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Pictured is Utica Eisenhower graduate and Wayne State University swimmer Kei Cze Prentis. During Prentis’ time at Wayne State, she has been part of an NCAA Division II championship, earned All-America honors, and been named to the GLIAC All-Academic Excellence team.

There aren’t a whole lot of local collegiate athletes walking around who can say that they were part of an NCAA National Championship team, but you can count Kei Cze Prentis as one of them.

After graduating from Utica Eisenhower, Prentis went on to swim collegiately at Wayne State University, where, during her freshman season, she was selected as GLIAC Freshman of the Year and was part of an NCAA Division II National Championship team in 2012. She was on the 800-yard freestyle relay team that took first place at the championships that season.

Prentis has now completed her junior season at Wayne State. Aside from being a national champion and GLIAC Freshman of the Year, her other accomplishments include earning All-America honors and being named to the GLIAC All-Academic Excellence Team.

“It’s been fun,” said Prentis, whose accomplishments at Eisenhower include earning All-State honors, being selected as a three-time MVP, being a five-time Macomb County champion, and setting four school records and two county records. “Even though it’s hard to be a college athlete — waking up at 5:30 every morning to go to 6 a.m. practice is rough — but you kind of push through, accept it and work hard. When it comes to conference and nationals, it pays off. The reward is worth the work. Not many people can say that they’re a national champion. Being able to say that, and that feeling, it’s very rewarding.”

“Well-respected leader on the team,” Wayne State coach Sean Peters said of Prentis. “Strong student, and also has high goals. I think she’s somebody that I know if I put in situations that require her to step up for the team, I know she’s capable and has accomplished this in all of her seasons, so far. Overall, Kei Cze has been a pleasure to work with. She’s been an All-American athlete. Vital contributor to our relays and a very good swimmer, both at the conference and national level.”

While the accomplishments of college athletes are typically out there for public knowledge, what isn’t always as obvious is the work that went into achieving them, along with the obstacles that sometimes have to be overcome along the way.

When Prentis was a sophomore in high school, she suffered a severe burn on her left leg. Prentis said she thought she was done swimming.

She missed approximately five weeks of training and said it took about a year before she was able to get back to her “peak performance.”

Despite the uncertainty she had in regards to her future in swimming, Prentis went on to become a junior national qualifier in 2011.

She said she has considered a future career as a physical therapist. The experiences she has been through may have also gone a long way toward providing Prentis with a lesson about determination.

“I learned a lot about myself through therapy and rehab,” said Prentis, who acknowledged support she has received from her parents, Jim and Winny. “I learned a lot about myself — that I’m dedicated. I’m driven. I have enough determination to get through obstacles that are in my way.”

Prentis said she wants to end her collegiate career with a “bang,” and she shared some of the ways that could help make her senior season with Wayne State a special one.

“I want to place high at conference,” said Prentis, who was one of Wayne State’s team captains last season. “I want to make top eight at nationals this next year. That’s for me, individually. As a team, I have goals of winning another GLIAC conference title, and I still want another national title.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.