While she was spending time in the pool as part of a summer swim camp, it was suggested to Sabrina Soto by one of the camp’s lifeguards that she try out for a local swim team. So at age 11, she talked it over with her parents, made the team and has found a real love for the sport.
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“I really like swimming competitively because I set goals for myself and I try to keep myself motivated to reach those goals,” says Soto. “Reaching the goals, you get a feeling of self-accomplishment. And it’s a good feeling.”
Now a four-year varsity senior at Cornelia Connelly School, Soto specializes in the distance events, specifically the 500-yard freestyle. The transition to high school swimming shifted the focus for Soto “from the individual to the team,” and it’s that team aspect of swimming at Connelly that the 17-year-old will miss the most after she graduates this spring.
“I think just how supportive and encouraging everyone on the team is,” says Soto. “I feel like they are a second family. I’ve never had that anywhere else.”
Soto also runs cross-country for the Koalas, and uses the distance running to help train and prepare her for swimming distances in the pool.
“It helps keep me motivated during the off-season,” says Soto, ”and helps me work on my endurance and my strength and mentally staying focused.”
Connelly head swim coach Kiersten Shew says that it’s Soto’s mental focus and toughness that sets her apart.
“Sabrina is an outstanding leader with really good work ethics,” says Shew. “She comes to practice every day ready to train and work hard, which sets a good atmosphere and example for the rest of the girls on the team.”
In addition to being a multi-sport athlete, Soto serves her campus as Commissioner of Ecology, heading up Earth Day events at Connelly and helping to raise awareness among the students about topics such as recycling and the state’s drought.
Soto also serves her community, with more than 10 years of service in the Girl Scouts. She’s working toward obtaining the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest level of achievement within the Scouting organization.
The Whittier resident is undecided as to where she will attend college, but is focused on studying biology with hopes of a career as a doctor.
Soto would like to continue to swim, most likely at the intramural level, and credits her years in the pool for many important concepts she will carry with her wherever the road may lead.
“Life lessons I’ve learned from swimming are the importance of being committed…and dedication,” says Soto. “If you want something, you’re going to have to work for it. No one’s going to hand anything to you. That’s how life is.”