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Kristian Komlenic

Kristian KomlenicKristian Komlenic, better known as Kiki, embodies the motto “work hard, play hard.”

On a spring 2021 morning he was preparing for a summer internship at Adaptive Biotechnologies in Seattle; thinking about his first tutoring position, for a Supply Chain Analytics class; and finishing his homework by 11 a.m. so he could enjoy the weather out on the golf course.

“I like to go out, enjoy life,” he says. Asked what his time as a Purdue men’s swimming and diving star taught him, Komlenic immediately says, “Time management. All athletes are taught that, hopefully.”

His time management skills allow Komlenic to live life to the fullest while completing his Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management program. He majored in Supply Chain Information & Analytics as an undergraduate, and moved seamlessly into the master’s program due to a deep interest in logistics, inspired by Krannert.

“As an undergraduate, you are taught theory,” Komlenic says. “Then you go out in the real world and find that theory.”

His master’s education focuses on real-world scenarios. “We are given data and are expected to do with it what a supply chain professional would do,” he says.

Komlenic has learned much from his case studies and other examples of real-world problems.

“It’s a win for me, 100 percent. I enjoy my program a lot. I feel prepared for the industry and my internship this summer.”

One of his long-term goals is to own a logistics company in his home country, Croatia.

Komlenic had never set foot in the U.S. until enrolling at Purdue as an undergraduate in 2016, and while his entire family is back home in the Balkans, he has made an additional support group in the States.

“I would say I have a second family here,” Komlenic says of his Krannert family and of his fellow swimming and diving alumni. 

Komlenic started swimming at age 8, and got serious about the sport around age 12. He made his debut at a national championship meet and anchored it.

“I was very fast for my age group. That evening, I was kind of the star,” he says.

His swimming career began with his first international meet, the European Youth Summer Olympic Festival (EYOF), in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Swimming is not a paying sport in Croatia, so Komlenic started looking at universities in the U.S. with strong academics and the ability to provide scholarships. His senior year of high school, he received a letter from Purdue.

“They wanted to talk to me.” Thus began a friendship between Komlenic and Purdue men's swimming and diving assistant coach J. Agnew.

The 100 backstroke is Komlenic’s stroke, and his list of achievements is long. Competing primarily in backstroke events and freestyle sprints, Komlenic broke Purdue's 100 back record twice at the Big Ten Championships his freshman year.

When his university swimming career ended in the fall semester of his senior year, Komlenic was among the Purdue all-time leaderboard, finishing his career ranked second in the 100 back and third in the 200 back. 

Along the way, Komlenic has created a family of friends, taking advantage of all Krannert and Purdue have to offer.