Catching up with BHS alum Isabel Williams

Williams, a six-time SeaKing District champion, competes in three events at UCLA. - Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Williams, a six-time SeaKing District champion, competes in three events at UCLA.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics.

Two years after graduating from Bainbridge High School, two-time 3A state champion Isabel Williams is swimming strong at UCLA. Williams, a junior, swims the 100 and 200-yard butterflies and the 100 backstroke and is majoring in international development studies.

Q: Looking back on your first two years at UCLA, what were the biggest changes between high school swimming and Division I?

A: The biggest transition for me was going from swimming high school for three months out of the year to consistent training. We train year round and the schedule is always the same. We had spring season but you’re still training just as much. That’s been the biggest transition for me is doing it all the time – that’s your life.

Q: What was your freshman year like?

A: The first year of my college career was a lot of getting into shape – training. Getting into shape was the focus and being consistent. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not going to get into any better shape. it’s the mental side of the sport now.

You have to decide what you really want and have deliberate practice and focus in practice – inside the pool and outside. It’s the mental side of the sport instead of the physical.

Q: You were injured at the Pac-10 Tournament this past season. What happened?

A: I was swimming a 50 free in my first event on the first day and I hit the wall. The way that I hit the wall, I dislocated my elbow and I fractured it. You’ve never heard that before from anyone anywhere really. I was out and had to cheer for the rest of the meet. It was a freak accident. I was frustrated just because you’re at the meet that you trained all season for, you’re completely prepared.

Q: How has the team performed as a whole?

A: Last year our team didn’t do as well, but we had an incredible year this year, and we’ll be really fast this [upcoming] year. We’re still building up.

Q: How do you balance training and school?

A: To have the mixture of academics the level of academics and athletics at UCLA is unlike any other school. It’s hard especially if you want to be good at swimming and good in school, and to some degree have a social life. With UCLA – the type of school that it is – they set you up to do it. You have all the resources there. We have a free academic center, everything like that. You have to learn the time management skills or you won’t be successful in either aspect if you don’t.

Q: Do you have time to keep up with other sports at UCLA?

A: We won our 106th national championship [in June] in softball. I roomed with two softball players so you share everything. It’s like their accomplishments are your accomplishments.

Q: What are your goals for the upcoming season?

A: I would love to make the NCAA qualifying team- it’s like 40 people per event out of all the [Division I] athletes. If you make it, it’s a huge accomplishment. We have 28-30 girls on the team; this year we only had a squad of seven girls go. So it’s quite the challenge.

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