by Pam Shebest
Craig Fleming ’11 turned down a full-ride swimming scholarship to Wayne State and followed his father’s advice to attend Kalamazoo College. But when he arrived at Kalamazoo he wasn’t so sure he had made the right decision, thinking the school was a bit smaller than he had anticipated.
Today, the newly minted “K” graduate has absolutely no regrets.
In his four years, he set numerous Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association swimming records, four of them in his senior season, and won an NCAA Division III national championship. Only the third swimmer in “K” history to win a national title, Fleming swam the 100 freestyle in a time of :44.06 at this year’s national championship meet.
While the national title was the highlight of his swimming career, his academic highlights included three months of foreign study in Madrid and an internship with a company based in Chicago.
“Study abroad is one of the big reasons I’m glad I came here,” Fleming said. “My sister went to Michigan State and she wasn’t really presented with an opportunity like that. That’s one of the great aspects of ‘K.’”
Fleming’s internship was in marketing and business development at Perpetual Motion Fitness Corporation under alumnus Jeff Marinucci ’00.
“I did pretty much everything because it was a startup business,” Fleming said. “They launched a couple weeks after I left, so I saw everything from operations to IT to marketing to accounting.
“It was a great experience, especially wanting to go in the business world. Seeing every aspect of the business has helped me narrow down what I want to do. I’ve always had an aspiration to start my own business, so this was a great experience in that respect.”
Perpetual Motion Fitness Corporation is an online personal training business. “They use technology to connect people looking for a personal trainer and who can’t go into the gym every day, but still want someone guiding them along,” Fleming said.
Marinucci said Fleming’s application caught his interest because of its attention to detail. “I received a bunch of applications, cover letters and resumes,” Marinucci said. “Craig’s was the only one that didn’t have any mistakes. It was the care and attention to detail that I liked. Those qualities came through during the interview. I asked him a variety of questions and he had some very quick and sharp answers.”
During the internship, Marinucci noticed some of the qualities in Fleming that he, himself, honed at Kalamazoo College.
“It was the way he learns and the way he asks questions,” Marinucci said. “He’s taken every opportunity he’s had and that’s one thing that sets him apart from many of the others. He brought knowledge from other experiences and could apply it to other places.”
Marinucci said Fleming had input into the marketing campaign and ideas for the public relations campaign.“He also helped a lot with accounting,” Marinucci added.
Although Marinucci is not that far removed from his college days, he realizes things have changed. “Craig helped with the social media and shared trends with what’s going on with young people today,” he said. “He attended meetings and it was good to get feedback from the younger generation.”
Fleming said skills he learned in accounting and finance classes taught by Associate Professor of Economics and Business Timothy Moffit '80 were instrumental in his successful internship.
“The critical thinking skills I learned in Professor Moffit’s class helped a lot because, trying to start a business, you have to think outside the box a lot and try to strategize.”
Swimming helped Fleming learn to work under pressure, especially on the relay teams. “I do really well with the pressure and I’m always the last one in the relay,” he said. “I’ve always swam way better in the relay, knowing your team’s behind you.
"It's easier to talk to people and carry on conversations if you've done it in another language."tired, but the last few yards you’re doing it for something bigger than yourself.”
Fleming helped the swim team to its first MIAA title in eight years and, after taking four years to reach his goal of a national title, he went out on top.
“Back as a freshman, it was probably a high standard for me to set,” he said. “I always knew I could do it. I was disappointed after the first day (this season) after I got third in the 50 freestyle (at nationals). But I just used that and I swam great the rest of the meet. It was an amazing feeling. I’m not a very emotional guy at meets, but I was a little excited after that.”
He’s also a relatively shy guy, but spending three months studying in Madrid his sophomore year helped bring him out of his shell. “It’s easier to talk to people and carry on conversations if you’ve done it in another language,” he said. “The classes (in Madrid) weren’t as hard as “K”, but it was just interesting to be in a different culture.
“We traveled a lot, which was probably the best part of it because I like history a lot, too. Seeing things from the Palace of Versailles to Rome and things like that was just unbelievable because the U.S. doesn’t have a long history compared to the rest of the world.”
Fleming said the study abroad program and the professors are the qualities he would stress to prospective Kalamazoo College students.
“The professors really like to teach,” he said. “I know at a lot of bigger schools it’s more about research.
“It’s unbelievable to see all of the professors who are here with Ph.D’s from Dartmouth or Yale. They just have a passion for teaching and it’s easy to talk to them and they really care about every student.”
The economics and business major has yet to narrow his post-graduation options. “I’ve had a bunch of interviews in different areas: sales, project management, marketing, finance,” he said. "We’ll see what happens.”