Fla. – To call it impressive is a vast understatement. On Wednesday night, gathered in one ballroom, the best and brightest of the NCAA’s more than 350,000 student-athletes were honored during the associations’ Honors Dinner in Orlando, Fla.
There, among those receiving the highest honors the NCAA has to offer its student-athletes, was University of Alabama swimmer Luke Kalisak. The Huntsville, Ala., native received the NCAA Today’s Top Ten Award, which recognizes student-athletes who have completed their athletic eligibility for their success in competition, in the classroom and in the community.
“I can’t believe that I’m here right now,” Kaliszak said before the dinner. “I can’t believe my family is here right now. This is more a testament to them than it is to me. It’s a testament to them and my teammates and coaches, and everyone who has poured into me and gotten me here.”
An NCAA champion and 12-time All-American, Kaliszak returned to the theme of family and the impact his parents, Kim and John, had on him from the stage when talking with event MC Jack Ford in a feel-good moment that topped an evening filled with them.
The trip to the NCAA Honors Dinner has become a regular occurrence for the Crimson Tide. The 15th Alabama athlete to receive the prestigious honor, Kaliszak’s selection marks the eighth time in 10 years an Alabama student-athlete has received the award.
Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne was on hand to present Kaliszak with the honor.
“To be named one of the NCAA’s Top 10 senior student-athletes is an amazing honor, not only for Luke, but his team, Alabama Athletics and the University as a whole,” Byrne said. “We are extremely proud of all he accomplished while at Alabama, both in the pool and in the classroom, and the way he represented himself, his family and Alabama.”
Kaliszak swam the butterfly leg on Alabama’s first NCAA relay championship as part of the 2016 200 medley relay. The Huntsville, Ala., native broke Alabama school records in four events, including two individual and two relays.
“By striving to be the best that he can be as an athlete, a student and a person, Luke has become one of the most accomplished student-athletes in the history of our program,” UA head swimming and diving coach Dennis Pursley said. “He has personified our core values of attitude, character and commitment and has set a standard of excellence that has impacted our entire program. We are both grateful and proud of him and we couldn’t be more excited about his future.”
The Crimson Tide’s co-captain and Paul W. Bryant Scholar-Athlete award winner as a senior, Kaliszak was a USA National Championships bronze medalist in the 100-meter backstroke in 2015 and a silver medalist at the 2017 US Open as part of the Crimson Tide’s 400-meter freestyle relay.
Graduating Magna Cum Laude with an exercise science degree in May 2018, Kaliszak is planning on attending medical school. A two-time member of the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American At-Large First Team and a four-year College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar First Team All-American, he was named the Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2018. He also earned both an SEC Postgraduate Scholarship and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.