Terry Freerks

HEC Media featured UMSL Distinguished Alumni Award winner Terry Freerks for the impact she’s had coaching over decades with the CSP Tideriders swim club. (Photo by August Jennewein)

HEC Media’s Spotlight program airs each Sunday morning on KPLR (Channel 11) with stories about art, education and culture around St. Louis. Last Sunday’s broadcast highlighted University of Missouri–St. Louis alumna Terry Freerks, who impacted countless young people through her involvement with the CSP Tideriders swim club before retiring this fall.

Freerks, who received a Distinguished Alumni Award at UMSL’s Founders Celebration in October, was national record holder as a youth swimmer and went on to earn All-American honors at Arizona State University in college. But she transferred home to St. Louis to finish her degree, graduating with a BA in history in 1977.

It was during that time that Freerks first started coaching with her former club team, the Tideriders.

She had stayed involved ever since, working her way up the ranks to head coach and eventually becoming the club’s executive director. She served that role even as she built her own career outside the pool as a licensed professional counselor after earning an MEd from UMSL’s College of Education and a PhD at Saint Louis University.

“What I really care about is expanding opportunities and encouraging education,” Freerks said in the story that aired Sunday morning, “and swimming – and competitive swimming – is just a vehicle in order to do that.”

Freerks describes some of the lessons she learned through swimming since her father started her in the sport at age 4. Those included how to overcome mistakes.

She’s been passing along those lessons to young people through coaching over 40 years and was one of the longest running female swim coaches in the United States.

She and her husband, Stan, also a recipient of UMSL’s Distinguished Alumni Award, have also continued to support education at their alma mater. They were the first couple to pass the $5 million milestone in philanthropic gifts to the university and were awarded the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Medal for Philanthropy in 2016.

“It goes back to enhancing quality of life and creating opportunities,” Freerks said of their commitment to supporting UMSL. “If people are educated, then they have more opportunities and they are able to recognize them better.”

To watch the full story on Freerks, click here.

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik