Matheus Assis — Academician and Athlete: Smart, Speedy, and a Really Nice Guy!

February 23, 2015

What do you get when you combine academic accolades with athletic achievement? A true student-athlete.

Saint Leo University junior Matheus Assisi is the epitome of that phrase in terms of academic excellence in the classroom (3.84 GPA) and being a standout swimmer in the pool—he’s broken several Sunshine State Conference (SSC) records. Plus he’s a really nice guy to boot.

The native Brazilian came to the United States in 2011 as part of the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program. He lived for a year with a family in Fort Pierce, FL, where he attended Fort Pierce Central High School and joined the swim team. He also competed with the Indian River Aquatics Club Team.

At the Florida State Championships that spring, Saint Leo head swim coach, Paul Mangen, spotted the Brazilian scholar swimmer after he finished as a runner-up at the state meet. He then recruited him to attend Saint Leo University, and we are the direct beneficiary of his academic talent and athletic aptitude.

It didn’t take long for him to continue his swimming prowess at the collegiate level. A sampling of some of his career highlights as a freshman and sophomore include:

  • SSC Male Swimmer of the Year
  • SSC Male Swimmer of the Meet (2014 Conference Championship)
  • SCC All-Conference Team
  • Elite 89 Finalist
  • NCAA All-American
  • Academic All-American
  • SSC Swimmer of the Week (4 times)
  • National Swimmer of the Week (once)

The affable, lanky double major (marketing and management) leads the Lion’s men’s swim team by example. According to coach Mangen: “Matheus is a special person; he is genuinely a great person who exhibits uncommon humility and quiet confidence. He’s the real deal.”

When he was interviewed for this story, Assis, 21, was laser-focused on the upcoming conference championship. This will be his third time competing at the SSC championships. He’ll be swimming in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle events, the 100 meter butterfly, the 100 meter backstroke, as well as being a member of the relay teams. “In preparation for the meet, we have begun our ‘tapering’ process; dropping our practice yardage in the pool. We’re now concentrating on quality vs. quantity. I’m again looking forward to competing and hopefully doing well.”

When asked specifically why he liked the sprint events best, Assis compared swimming the 50 meter freestyle event to playing the lottery. “The smallest mistake can cost you the race. Details really matter a lot. You have to learn from your mistakes and stay focused.”

During his rare moments of downtime, the 6-foot-1-inch 175-pound athlete, who speaks perfect English, likes to hang out with his friends and do what most students his age enjoy doing – watching movies, playing video games, and going out. He also likes to play soccer for recreation. He lists Flamengo FC as his favorite team.

His parents, Alexandre de Assis and Tatiana de Assis, still reside in his home town of Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil. His dad is a real estate broker while his mom practices law. His older brother, Alexandre, is studying to be an engineer.

In closing, he was asked what he likes best about Saint Leo. “The campus is pretty, and the people are great. It is exciting to be a student in the United States.”

Not too bad for “Mr. Nice Guy.”