When Andressa Cholodovskis first flew into Reno, she did so into a snowstorm. That can be a shock for anybody who is visiting a place for the first time, but it was especially so for Cholodovskis, a Brazilian native whose winters in her homeland typically consisted of temperatures in the 60s. But Cholodovskis, now a senior on the Nevada swimming and diving team, has found a second home in Northern Nevada. She's helped the Wolf Pack to a second- and two third-place team finishes in the MW championship and has earned five conference swimmer of the week awards. Last weekend, she locked in an NCAA B cut time in the 200 free, with a goal of leading Nevada to a MW title and a spot in the NCAAs still left on her to-do list.
For Cholodovskis' stellar swimming, not only this season but the last four years, she is Nevada Sports Net's Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month for November, an honor presented in partnership with Champion Chevrolet. You can watch the full interview with Cholodovskis below, or check out our Q&A with a portion of the conversation.
Q&A with Andressa Cholodovskis
On her journey from Brazil to America
Andressa Cholodovskis: "It was pretty intense, but it's always been my dream to come to America and study and do what I love, which is swimming. It was intense. I worked really hard and I was lucky Brendon Bray, my head coach right now, found me and recruited me."
On the reaction from family and friends when she left for Reno
AC: "Most of my best friends are here in America studying and swimming. They were all very excited for me, and my family has always been very supportive of me. When I decided to come, all of my cousins helped me out to get my academics (in order) and my other cousin helped me talk to Brendon and see if he was a really good person to be with and to coach me and if he really cared about me. They were all very supportive."
On flying into Reno for the first time and seeing a snowstorm
AC: "I just looked outside of the window on the plane and said, 'What am I doing? It's in the middle of nowhere?' I hopped off the plane and remember going down the baggage claim and I saw Brandon and his wife, Beth, and I just felt lucky they were there for me and I knew I wouldn't be alone. I was pretty excited after a while. I looked around and passed through the bridge you come from the freeway to the campus and I said, 'Yeah, this is pretty nice.'"
On the melting pot of Nevada's roster (nine countries are represented)
AC: "The girls are amazing. We always talk about how we are each other's family since our families are far away. We do have two locals and their families always invite us to come over for Thanksgiving to have dinner with them. We are each other's family, and it's pretty amazing and I'm very lucky we have such a together group."
On the responsibility of being the only senior on the roster
AC: "When I got here, the seniors my freshmen year were amazing. They really helped me get through it. The first week I got here, they took me in their houses because the dorms weren't open. They helped me get my classes done and really helped me get through my freshman year and that group of seniors really influenced my role this year. The seniors last year are my best friends: Jamie Reynolds, Rebecca Murray and Caitlyn Richardson. They really helped me get through it."
On her goals after college
AC: "I really still want to be able to work with sports. Sports is my passion since I was little. I have a father who is a volleyball coach. My mom is a swimming coach. I didn't have much choice of not going into sports. It's been my passion since the beginning, and I really don't want to be away from it when I'm done with swimming. I don't think I'll be able to not swim anymore. It's been 18 years, so being able to be around any sport would make me really happy."
On whether there was a battle on whether she'd swim or play volleyball
AC: "My mom, she taught me how to be safe in the water and she put me in other classes and my dad always encouraged me to pursue other spots, but swimming and volleyball have always been my passion and two sports I love. I really miss playing volleyball, but when I had to decide between both of them, I got my first national team in swimming. It was my chance to be really good at it, and I wasn't really tall for volleyball at the time, so I just decided to go for swimming."
On this year's team as the MW championships approach
AC: "We are in a pretty good position. I think that we work really hard every day and we're always trying to pull each other up. If you see somebody down, grab their hand and take them in with you. We're in a really good position right now to just have fun and try to win that Mountain West that we've been trying to do for four years now."
On her favorite thing in Reno despite the lack of a Brazilian restaurant
AC: "They're opening one right now. I just found out. (Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse opens Dec. 2.) It's by Midtown, entering Midtown. I think it's going to be a steakhouse or something. Reno is amazing. It reminds me of home. We're in the middle of the mountains at home and here we are, too. It's my second home. I created a family here with the team and with the whole University of Nevada. It's created my second family, so it's really special."
On being able to attend the 2016 Olympics in Brazil
AC: "It was amazing. I had chills all over my body because I was lucky. When you enter to get the tickets, it's kind of like a lottery, so you don't know what days you're going to get. I was lucky to get the 200 butterfly final with Michael Phelps. Seeing him race his comeback from London (where he finished second to Chad le Clos), especially such an icon for the whole swim world, I had chills all over. I remember recording it and I was shaking. The whole recording I was shaking. Everybody was so happy for him. We're such a passionate country, it really gave me chills all over."
On her favorite item to eat at Thanksgiving
AC: "I really can't say. It's so good. I think the pies maybe really get me. Apple pies. But everything's good."