Steve Kemmerling ’97 can’t imagine his life without swimming. Growing up in Parma Heights, he followed in the waves of two older sisters and started swimming competitively at age five for Berea Midpark Swim Club. He trained as a middle schooler with Team Viking where many of the older swimmers went to Saint Ignatius. That, and the fact that a former coach of his was currently coaching at the school, influenced a decision that would form his life and future.
“At Saint Ignatius, there is a lot of rigor, expectation, quality and honor. ‘Men for Others’ is a concept you simply won’t get at any other school,” reflects Steve. “Ignatius aims you for excellence, while focusing on growing you as a human, too.”
Steve recalls a tough schedule, balancing academics with workouts before and after school. He appreciated supportive teachers understanding swimmers’ schedules, many of them coaches themselves. He graduated in the top 10 percent of his class while proving himself an integral member of the school’s 1994 and 1995 district championship teams and as a decorated individual at the state and national level.
He was a four-time district champion in 100 Freestyle, placed in multiple events at state championships, was a four-time Plain Dealer All-Star, and earned All-America recognition in 100 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle and 400 Freestyle Relay. Steve still holds the school’s oldest (23 years) swimming record in the 200 Freestyle at 1:40. He previously held the 500 Freestyle record, later broken by fellow Hall of Famer Todd Minnier '00.
Steve’s freshman times ranked him nationally at first in 100 Free and second in 200 Frees for his age group, earning him a spot at an Olympic Training Center camp. His junior year, Steve won the 100 Free at the 1996 State Championship in a rare tie and recalls “not arguing over who got the gold medal, because the other guy was a senior and I thought I’d win the following year.” His senior year, however, proved a humbling lesson in disappointment when he placed second in the 100 and 200 Free, remembering “you can’t win them all.”
Accepted at West Point and wait-listed at Harvard, Steve chose Southern Methodist University (SMU) because it had a Top 10 Division I swim team and many of his friends from the Olympic camp would be teammates. At SMU, he earned Division I NCAA All-American honors, was a Junior National Champion (100 Freestyle), and competed in 100 and 200 Freestyle at the 2000 Olympic Trials.
Continuing his academic success, Steve graduated magna cum laude with a BS in Economics and BA in Public Policy. He spent most of his career as an investment banker before founding his own company, CRB Monitor, which has developed the most comprehensive database of licensed cannabis-related businesses, which the company sells to banks and investment firms for compliance purposes.
Steve continues to swim recreationally and, occasionally, in U.S. Masters competitions. He looks back with gratitude and pride at his Saint Ignatius experience.
Steve and wife Kim Breese live in Nashville, TN. His parents are David and Judith and sisters Wendy and Alison.
“The school really pushed me to excel and surrounded me with like-minded, hard-working, faithful classmates. I cannot think of a better environment to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”