ST. CLOUD, Minn. — St. Cloud State sophomore Raf Hendriks is one of swimming's rising stars.
"Going smooth with the water, just gives a feeling of invincibility," Hendriks said.
His athletic feats are some of the best his head coach Jeff Hegle has seen in his 21 years at the school.
“We had some pretty fast kids before but he’s probably one of the top,” Hegle said.
Hendriks currently has the second best time in NCAA Division II in the 200-yard backstroke, and broke the school record in the 100-yard backstroke in December.
"He's kind of just scratching the surface," Hegle said. "He's at the point in his career where there's a lot of little things that we can do better."
Hendriks has been swimming since he was 7, and came to Minnesota from the Netherlands, where he set state records in the 200-yard backstroke and 400 freestyle in high school.
Hegle found the Dutch swimmer via email and connected with him on Zoom. Hendriks didn't know much about what would become his new home, but the idea intrigued him.
“I knew it was cold,” Hendriks said laughingly. "I kind of fell in love with it and I really like it here. I may never leave."
With three years of college eligibility left, Hendriks hopes to keep making a big splash in the water.
"I'd like to be the first swimmer here to win a national championship for St. Cloud," Hendriks said. "I'd like to qualify for the European championships later this year and from there, kind of swim those high level tournaments, world championships, maybe an Olympic games in the future. We'll see what it holds."
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