UChicago swimmer to represent Malaysia at prestigious World University Games

Third-year Nadia Redza to compete in 200- and 400-meter medleys

Nadia Redza knows a little bit about pressure. The swimmer has been competing on big stages well before her time at the University of Chicago, where she’s already a two-time All-American.

So competing in this month’s World University Games in Naples, Italy should be no sweat, right?

“My expectations for these games is honestly just have fun,” said Redza, the soon-to-be third-year student who will represent her home country of Malaysia in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys.

Redza will compete in her preliminary events on July 4 and 6 in a highly competitive field that likely includes swimmers training for the upcoming FINA World Championships.

A member of the Malaysia national team since she was 13, Redza, who grew up in Kuala Lumpur, said she’s prepared for the pressures of international competition. Redza served as a co-captain for her squad at last fall’s Malaysia Games 2018 and won gold in all three events she entered.

“I learned how to deal with pressure at a very young age,” she said. “But it’s a very rewarding experience. It’s so nice to meet the world-class swimmers and having an awesome reason to travel to all of these cool places.”

Redza hasn’t stopped training since her second straight NCAA Championships appearance in March.

“What Nadia has done this offseason, as well as last offseason, is extremely difficult to do,” UChicago head swimming coach Jason Weber said. “You have to have a high level of intrinsic motivation to train alone for months and maintain such a high level of performance. There are very few people on our team that would be able to do what she’s doing day in and out, alone.”

Building on a successful season

The first of her family to study abroad in the U.S., the economics major said one of the reasons she chose the University of Chicago was to be part of a team atmosphere.

“Swimming internationally is much more individual-based; people are focusing on making cuts and improving in their own events, while the NCAAs is more about celebrating achievements and triumphs as a team,” Redza said.

Both the women’s and men’s swimming teams had their best-ever finishes at the 2019 NCAA Championships this past March, placing sixth and eighth respectively.

“At the NCAAs, I was just as happy about my own races as I was about my teammates’ and celebrated every teammate’s success—not just my own. This is what I think the main difference is (between competing internationally) and one of the main reasons why I came to UChicago and the U.S. to study.”

After the games, she plans to return home to Kuala Lumpur and will take an internship—she’s still ironing out the details where—in a consulting firm.

And the future looks bright from there.

“The World University Games is one of the most selective and competitive international competitions behind World Championship and the Olympics, so it’s very exciting for Nadia to be able to represent her country and the University of Chicago at this competition,” Weber said. “Having the experience of competing at a meet with this level of competition will only serve to give her more confidence when she competes against the top D3 swimmers and at UAA and NCAA Championships.” 

—Adapted from a story that first appeared on the UChicago Athletics website.