By JORDAN IKEDA
RAFU SPORTS EDITOR
Kiersten Shew has only been swimming competitively for three years, but already the sophomore at La Serna High School in Whittier has attained a level of excellence that girls who have worked three times as long could only hope to reach.
“Our life is swim. It truly is swim,” Kiersten’s mother Karen Shew explained to the Rafu Shimpo. “Everything we do is based around swim. With club, she only gets two weeks off a year. She swims a lot.”
According to Kiersten, “a lot” includes nine workouts spread over six days of training. Mondays and Wednesdays, she’s in the water by 4:45 a.m. to get in two hours of pool time before heading off to school. She then gets back in the water when school’s over.
So it’s no wonder that heading into this past Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 3 swimming finals, Shew was the number one seeded swimmer, something she admitted surprised even her.
Perhaps she shouldn’t have been, not after last Thursday’s virtuoso performance at the CIF-Southern Section preliminaries where she won the 100 backstroke in 59.70 seconds and was part of two relays that both advanced to Saturday’s finals.
The amazing part? Saturday, Shew was even better, continuing her ascension up the California swimming ranks. She literally destroyed the competition in the girls 100 backstroke, which she completed in 58.94—the only competitor who finished in less than a minute. She also helped the Lancers to first place in the 200 relay, where they finished almost three seconds better than second-place Adolfo Camarillo.
Shew is looking to turn her swimming prowess into a scholarship. She has her sights set on Stanford, but would be happy with USC or UCLA as well. She wants to study business and or law and, as she’s already proven with swimming, when she puts her mind to something, she’s quick to success.
“When I was 11, I went to junior Olympics,” Shew said. “I didn’t really think about it that much. A year ago, I started thinking about getting a scholarship, so it became more competitive.”
Those competitive juices landed her on the varsity squad as a freshman and ultimately put her in the position to compete against Southern California’s finest last night at the CIF Masters at Belmont Shores as a sophomore.
“It’s been pretty exciting [being on varsity]because it got me to meet new people at my school,” she said. “It was a good feeling being on varsity as a freshman. And while last year was all right, this year has been even better.”
Now, just imagine what next year has in store.