On Oct. 9, senior All-American swimmer Rebecca Waterson verbally committed to Brown University, located in Providence, Rhode Island, in the Division I Ivy League.
Waterson committed after receiving Brown’s likely letter (from a college showing interest in an applicant).
Waterson said she originally wanted to swim at a Division III school to focus on academics with less pressure than at a Division I program. Reflecting more, she realized that she wanted to take the sport as seriously as her classes.
“Swim is a huge part of my life, and I don’t know what I would do without it,” Waterson said. “I’ve dedicated so much time (to) swimming, and I’ve seen so many good results, I would never want to stop.”
According to Waterson, the team atmosphere she perceived upon visiting campus on an official recruitment tour last year was one reason she chose Brown.
“The coaches were super encouraging, and the team was very welcoming,” Waterson said.
Waterson, who said she plans to study creative writing and computer science, said swimmers there told her that Brown’s open curriculum would accommodate both her academic and swim schedules.
Senior Rebecca Waterson signs her letter of intent to swim at Brown University on Nov. 13. (Photo by Hermione Xian)
Waterson said she is proudest of her performance in the 2018 Winter Junior Nationals in Austin, Texas. Out of 173 swimmers, she finished 16th in the 100-yard butterfly with a personal record of 54.25 seconds. She also finished 53rd in the 100-yard backstroke out of 172 in 56.04 seconds. Her fastest time in the 100-yard backstroke is 55.33 seconds, which she reached in July.
She also competed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Championships on May 2-4 at Tokay High School in Lodi, winning the 100-yard butterfly in 54.25 seconds and placing sixth in the 100-yard backstroke in 56.95 seconds.
At the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Swimming and Diving Championships on May 11-12 at Clovis West High School in the Fresno area, Waterson finished seventh in the 100-yard butterfly in 54.47 seconds and ninth in the 100-yard backstroke in 55.83 seconds.
Waterson said she looks up to her first coach, Debbie Meyer, who won three individual gold medals in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City as a 16-year-old student at Rio Americano High School. Meyer coached Waterson when she was 8 on the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team.
“She’s super passionate about swimming and drives that passion into the entire team,” Waterson said.
Waterson said her motivation also comes from her swim team, the Davis Arden Racing Team (DART), in Davis.
“My team encourages me to do better. When the team improves, the individual improves,” Waterson said.
Junior Sydney Turner, who has swum with Waterson for seven years, said Waterson’s strong kicks makes her a great swimmer.
“She’s probably the most skilled kicker I’ve ever seen,” Turner said. “Ever since we were 8 years old, she’s carried that ability with her and continues to beat everyone in kicking drills.”
Outside the pool, Turner said she admires Waterson’s time management.
“She somehow manages to attend (every) practice possible each week,” Turner said. “Being able to maintain amazing grades in hard classes and (performing) well in swim is extremely difficult. Only a few elite swimmers can do that, so I’m not surprised that she’s going to an Ivy League school.”
Country Day swim coach Brian Nabeta, who has coached Waterson for over two years, said he admires her dedication to the sport.
“(Waterson) has been working on being tough when it comes to longer races,” Nabeta said. “It has helped her expand her event choices.”
Waterson also credited her success to her diet. She said she eats mostly soup and salads, limiting junk food to once every two months.
At meets, she eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, honey and apple slices.
Right before she begins races, she shakes her body to calm her nerves.
“I’ve seen a lot of Olympic swimmers do that on TV,” Waterson said with a laugh.
During the race itself, she said she doesn’t think at all, entering a flow state.
“It’s strange because once you get into a race situation, you just let your training take over,” Waterson said.
Waterson added that training all year is challenging because many swimmers train only in the summer, so they don’t have to balance school workload and a hectic swim schedule.
Nevertheless, she said, “Country Day teachers have been great about being flexible and managing my absences.”
Turner emphasized the positive energy Waterson brings to practices.
“I’m going to miss her so much next year, and I can’t wait to see all that she accomplishes in the future,” Turner said.
—By Sanjana Anand
Originally published in the Nov. 12 edition of the Octagon.