"It's probably one of the highlights of my athletic career."

Those were the words of future University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame swimmer Shaune Fraser when asked what it meant to him to receive the email telling him, 'You're in'.

A national champion, Olympian, and a truly professional individual who epitomizes what it means to be a Hall of Fame athlete.

Last week, AllGators spoke to Fraser to get his thoughts on his career, rise to glory, his future induction, and catch up as to what he's been up to in the years following his retirement from the sport.

Fraser, a Caymen Islands native, was one of the most successful swimmers in the university's history. From 2006-2010, Fraser won three individual National Titles, including the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard freestyle in 2009, while also winning the 200-yard butterfly in 2010. He also achieved 27 All-American accolades, one fewer than the maximum 28.

"I mean, it's a tremendous honor," Fraser told AllGators last week via phone interview. "It's probably one of the highlights of my athletic career. Just to even be mentioned in the same breath as some of the other inductees - Tim Tebow, and some of the others. It's just an incredible honor."

Fraser will be inducted alongside fellow elite talents such as Tebow, linebacker Brandon Spikes, fellow swimmer Gemma Spofforth, and many more.

Growing up on an island completely surrounded by water, it was fitting Fraser would eventually fall in love with the sport of swimming, and he would find success at such an early age, in part thanks to the motivation and hard work gather and given by his parents and namely his father, Jim Fraser.

It was Jim's idea to give his son the opportunity of a lifetime, which came in the form of allowing him to board at one of the best swim schools in the country, The Bolles School.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Bolles is one of the most prestigious private athletics schools in the nation and has a unique specialization in swimming - among other athletics -, producing some of the greatest swimmers of all time such as Ryan Murphy, Ariana Kukors, and one of the more recent Olympians, Caeleb Dressel

At the young age of 16, Fraser entered his first Olympic competition in 2004. A bit overwhelming at first, however, competing in the games gave him that much more motivation, and it was then when he realized he could do it, and perform at the highest level.

"I truly realized that I definitely had the talent, and along with the talent, the work ethic to attain the highest level of achievement in the sport."

While at Bolles, Fraser was coached by current University of Florida swim coach, Jeff Poppell, someone Fraser says was a major influence on his career, and part of why he made the decision to attend Florida in the first place. For Fraser, Bolles was an "incredible" experience.

While athletics was absolutely a focus, and Fraser learned plenty in that aspect while at Bolles, it was the everyday life lessons that he took from the school. Learning the intricacies in life, living on his own, and adapting to 'adulthood' at such an early age was pivotal.

"It just taught me a lot of life skills. How to be independent, how to manage stuff on my own."

The Olympian fell in love with swimming at a young age, typical for someone surrounded by water, but something that he did for fun, turned into something extraordinary down the road.

"I started swimming when I was pretty young, around the age of five," Fraser explained. "It's just something that I pretty much fell in love with. I love to compete - I mean I guess my success was able to allow me to travel to other countries within the Caribbean, and then that expanded to North America and eventually three Olympic games in 2004, 2008, and 2012."

His success did allow him to compete at the highest level, in three Olympic games. Fraser eventually got comfortable, knowing he could do what he set out to achieve, which occurred during his final Olympics in 2012, reaching the semi-final.

During his time at Florida, Fraser was coached by - who Fraser, and many others say is one of the greatest swim coaches of all-time - former Florida swim coach Gregg Troy.

"(Troy) has an exceptional athlete that he's working with now," Fraser remarked. "[Former Gators swimmer and Olympian] Caeleb Dressel. I mean, he, to even be coached by him, [that was] something that I drew a lot of inspiration from."

An achievement that will never be forgotten by Fraser came in 2009 during the Division-I National Championship in which he set an NCAA record in the 200-yard butterfly, winning the 200-yard freestyle National Championship. 

"It was something that not only was I truly proud of individually, but I was proud of the way that I was able to represent the university on the highest level of collegiate athletics."

It was also at the University of Florida, and in the Olympics, where Fraser got a unique opportunity - able to swim with his brother, Brett Fraser. Brett, also a Florida alumnus, is a few years younger than Shaune, and his swimming career didn't truly kick-off until he reached Florida. However, it was near the end when Brett was able to eventually surpass his older brother, Shaune says.

"It was somewhat of a unique experience alongside me, not only at the collegiate events, and especially in relays where we're part of the same team," Shaune recalls.

"Also internationally, when we went to, let's say - major competition, the pan-American games where we were able to go win the gold and silver in the same event. Or the Olympic semi-finals where we were able to qualify in the same event and swim in the same heat.

"Those are some experiences that I guess I'll just cherish for the rest of my life." 

Shaune (silver) and Brett (gold), swept the Pan-American Games top-two places in the 200 freestyle in 2011, an achievement neither will surely forget.

Now retired from the sport, Shaune has changed his career and opened up an Immigration Law Firm (Fraser Immigration Law) based in Miami Beach, Florida. Another achievement accomplished by Fraser that was helped by the University of Florida Law School where he earned his degree.

image001(2)

He would use the traits he took from his athletic career, discipline, dedication, and focus which needs to be applied on a "daily basis" to launch his firm and has used it to help athletes, and other professionals, from all around the globe.

"So, I would say that - it was kind of two-fold. The discipline, the dedication, and then the athletic experience and my passion for sports has really allowed this practice to start flourishing."

"It's a tremendous honor," Fraser says when asked how it feels to be able to help others who have gone through something similar to himself in the past. "When I just reflect on kinda how my career has evolved over the year, I'm just truly grateful to be able to be in a position to help athletes."

His achievements both athletically and professionally will now forever be enshrined and remembered at the University of Florida, a true Gator-Great, able to etch his name further in history.

"I feel like I'm forever indebted to the University of Florida - notwithstanding what they did for me athletically, but now what they've done in my professional career.

"I would say that the University of Florida will always hold a special place in my heart, and anything that I can do to help the University out athletically, speaking engagements, or down the road, I'm willing to do that."