The Skomra Story: Swimming and SEM

By Elle N.

Four years ago, SEM gained one of the school’s most significant and beloved staff members who has a passion for the school, helping others, and athletics—particularly swimming. She is the cool, approachable, and reliable school nurse that every school needs, but not all are lucky enough to have. If you haven’t guessed yet, that staff member is the one and only Nurse Kim Skomra. Beginning her journey at Buffalo Seminary four years ago, Nurse Kim has made an incredible impact on the school through both her kindness and passion for nursing as well as her incredible contribution to SEM’s swim team.
Nurse Kim began her vocation as a delivery nurse in the hospital where she worked for almost 20 years. However, that all changed when her daughter, Alex, who was in eighth grade at the time, pointed out to her mom that “you haven’t been to one of my softball games.” This was an eye opening moment that inspired Nurse Kim with the idea of becoming a school nurse where she could have more flexible hours and spend much more time with her family. After working as a nurse at a few other schools, she eventually arrived at SEM.

In the words of Nurse Kim, “I have always enjoyed being a school nurse [and] I enjoy working with the kids and my colleagues. I always say to myself, ‘I can’t believe I get to work here, like this is so perfect.” It is safe to say that she absolutely adores Buffalo Seminary as a school and she loves working here. When asked about her favorite aspect of SEM, she enthusiastically replied, “I love that the girls come and hang out with me sometimes even if they don’t have a medical problem. My days are fulfilling; whether it’s coaching, whether it’s taking care of kids, whether it’s just talking to kids, I’m just very lucky, I have landed in a very good place.” She also added that out of SEM’s many traditions, “Hornet Jacket (day) is my favorite, like all the skits, it is super fun for you girls and it’s also fun for us as a faculty because we kind of get to let loose a little bit.” Although she may be “Nurse Kim” to many, outside of SEM she has a reputation as “Kim Skomra, the champion swimmer and coach.”

She started swimming alongside her two sisters at an early age for a small swim team called the “Orchard Park Town Wreckers” (now a larger club known as “TWST,” Town Wreckers Swim Team). Growing up in Orchard Park, this local club was an excellent and convenient opportunity to discover her passion for the pool which would soon become a career of high school state championships, collegiate racing, traveling for high level competitions, and even open water as well as Masters swimming.

After a few years, Kim and her sisters, apprehensive at first, joined a club in Cheektowaga, where they ended up thriving. “My coach was fantastic,” she said, clearly happy with the decision, “he got me to where I was and it ended up being a really good move.” Nurse Kim described her high school athletics experience as “Only swimming…swim, swim, swim.” In fact, her commitment went so far as to defy the status quo in order to get the training she needed to be on top of the sport. She recalls an experience she shared with her sister in 1976, before women in athletics were common. “I remember my mom would come and pick my sister and I up and we would go to this Nautilus Fitness gym. We had this one-on-one training,” she illustrated: “People would be like ‘where are you guys going’ and we would lie and say ‘we’re going to the mall.’ You wouldn’t dare say, ‘yeah we’re going to lift weights!’ That was NOT cool for girls in 1976.”

Certainly, all of this dedication and devotion to the sport has turned out to be an extraordinary career. In high school alone, Kim reached heights that most athletes dream of such as being a state champion. Her relay team won the 4×100 yard freestyle relay swimming at West Point Military Academy, which was an unforgettable experience and her favorite swimming memory. She also recalls the excitement of swimming at the collegiate level for Syracuse where she competed at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships. Occasionally, Nurse Kim wonders how her childhood would have been different if she had tried other sports, however she knows that she probably would not have reached such an elite level in swimming if she had divided her attention. “It was a lot of fun swimming, I don’t have one single regret about what I had to give up to do it,” she confidently stated.

Last school year, an opportunity came up for Nurse Kim to become an assistant swim coach for Buffalo Seminary’s swim team. Although she had only had experience being a head coach, she gladly took the position as assistant. It was exciting to coach again, as she has been the head coach of the Amherst swim team for about eight years straight in the past, as well as a head coach for a local YMCA team. Taking this role was “just kind of a good fit.” She described: “I had always been a head coach so I wasn’t sure, would I like being more in the background? Andi (head coach) was great to work with and the last two years were really a lot of fun.” During her time with the swim team so far, Nurse—or Coach—Kim won two consecutive All Catholic Championships (SEM’s third in a row), and got to relive the New York State Championship experience with five girls from the team.

Nurse Kim feels beyond fortunate to be a part of the SEM community, each day. She never takes a moment for granted and feels that “we’ve all made a good choice to be here.”

It is safe to say that many of us in the SEM community couldn’t agree more.

Coincidentally, when an opportunity appeared for a Summer at SEM camp director, Nurse Kim was able to share the SEM experience with one of the people she is closest to—her daughter, Alex.

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