Hi, my name is Rachel Stein and I have been swimming on the La Crosse Area YMCA Wave Swim Team since I was ten years old. Before I swam with the Wave, I began my swimming career on a summer team called the West Salem Sharks when I was six years old. From a very young age I fell in love with the sport, and I kept craving more and more. Swimming for three months in the summer did not seem like enough to satisfy my love for swimming, so when I was ten I decided to begin swimming year round for the Wave. I always knew I loved breaststroke, but it was not until I was twelve years old that I really decided to push myself and put forth my entire heart into the sport.
Even before I completely invested myself in swimming, I have always been a goal oriented person. Academic excellence has always been a priority for me, and I have proven good time management skills by balancing a very full schedule. I am currently a sophomore at West Salem High School, and I participate in more activities like the AOWS Snowboard & Ski Team, DECA and band. It is my first year on the Ski Team, and though I am very nervous, I love trying new things. I love being able to push myself and not be afraid to try something new. Though I have been snowboarding for almost seven years, I have never competed before, so I am looking forward to meeting new people and having tons of fun on the slopes.
I have always strived to reach the goals I set for myself. Freshman year, I joined the high school swim team and fell in love with it. I already had completely loved the sport, but there was something about the team aspect of high school swimming that somehow made me even more excited to compete. I love my high school coach, and she has been a big part of pushing me to my athletic best. She has always believed in me, and always told me to "trust the process." At the beginning of freshman year, I had a 1:14 in the 100 Breaststroke. By the end of the short course club season, I wanted to have a 1:09 to qualify myself for the Central Zone meet. It had been my dream to go to Zones for quite some time, and I began to work harder than I ever had before. In November at our high school sectional meet, my seed time was a 1:14. Joan (my high school coach) told me that before the race she knew I had it in me to go a 1:12. I knew if I went a 1:12 I would be even closer to qualifying for Zones, even if I had to still drop another three seconds. When I got up on the blocks, I knew my team was down at the other side, cheering me on. I felt it in my heart that this would be an amazing race, and I truly believed in myself. I won my heat by almost three seconds, and I earned myself a sixth place finish at our Division 1 sectional with a time of 1:10. I also finished sixth in the 200 IM with a 2:22, a four second drop from my personal best! I could not believe I had dropped four seconds in a 100, but I knew that if I put in the hard work and trusted the process, it would all pay off in the end. By the end of March, I went a 1:08 in the 100 Breaststroke and also dropped my 200 Breaststroke time down from a 2:42 to a 2:32. Sadly, I aged up before Zones so I was not able to go, but I was extremely happy with my improvement. Not being able to go to Zones made me want to work harder to be able to go to the bigger meets over the next three years.
Since my freshman year, I have worked harder than I ever have before. My goal is to qualify for Futures this year in the 100 Breaststroke, but I would also love to improve my backstroke and IM. I have to drop a bit of time, but I know that if I strive towards my goals and work as hard as I have in the past, I can do it. I love being able to challenge what some people may think is impossible. I am a very motivated and driven person, and I have continued to pursue excellence in other areas, such as academics. I have been able to keep a 4.0 GPA and attain High Honors every semester, something I will continue for the rest of my high school career. I look forward to swimming in college and being the best swimmer and student I can be. I will always be a positive team player and always support everyone, no matter what team they are from or who they are. I love being able to congratulate my competitors and make new friends from other teams, while also always striving to be the best. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that college swimming will offer me. I am very excited to continue my swimming career at the collegiate level.