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Thea Machalak: Badass Student Athlete

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWF chapter.

Name: Thea Machalak

Major: Advertising

From: Germany

Year: Junior

When we think of bad asses, there’s one name that immediately comes to our minds: Thea Machalak. Thea just broke the national record in the 100m breaststroke swimming event against Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast University and has been nothing less than an inspiration to the rest of the womens swim team and many other members of the UWF community. She is currently a junior majoring in advertising and enjoys helping foster animals in her free time.

Thea represented Germany at the London Olympics in 2012 and recently won a national title at the NCAA D2 national championships, which was held in Indianapolis in March. She has also competed in over 30 different countries at competitions of various levels all over the world.

Photo courtesy Thea Machalak

It’s easy to be intimated by all her medals and crazy cool tattoos, but underneath it all, Thea is among the sweetest girls with the biggest hearts you will ever meet. Originally coming from the University of Florida in 2015 from Germany to pursue a college degree, Thea transferred over to UWF just last year after she fell in love with a girl on the soccer team, later becoming her fiancé. She said the coziness, beaches and small class sizes drew her to UWF.

She said, “I grew so much in the past six months because I realized that I can be someone else next to [just] being Thea the swimmer.” Thea said. “I learned to be in a group where everyone is treated like a family member.”

Thea is your typical badass. She surfs, rides motorcycles, has amazing hair, and she loves her fiancé. Besides showing us what hard work brings you, she also has no problem voicing her opinions on gay pride, bisexuality, and the fight for equality among women. When she was asked her about the challenges of being bisexual, she very simply said that it was about falling in love with a person and not a gender.

“I fell in love with another person, and not as a category… No one deserves to hide their beliefs or who they are because no one is fairly able to judge.”

Thea works incredibly hard being a full-time student, athlete and working a part-time job. Being a student athelete includes training up to 20 hours a week, Thea mentioned that passion drives her to do what she does each and every day.

She stressed a simple message to everyone that being unique is the best way to live.

“Always follow your own dreams instead of copying someone else’s,” she said. “It is your own story. A unique store that no one else is able to live and tell it like you can. Be the main actress or actor in your own movie.”

It doesn’t need to take someone as special as Thea to remind us all that we need to be the best versions of ourselves.


Abigail is a Journalism and Political Science major minoring in Spanish. She has a penchant for puns and can't go a morning without listening to NPR's Up First podcast. You can usually find her dedicating time to class work, Her Campus, College to Congress, SGA or hammocking. Her dream job is working as a television broadcast journalist on a major news network. Down time includes TED talk binges, reading and writing. You can follow Abigail on instagram and Twitter @abi_meggs