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Going The Distance
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 10/02/2012
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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Oct. 2, 2012

By Preslie Hirsch, Digital Communications Intern

Junior marketing major Tristin Baxter has been making waves competing on the Sun Devil swimming team, and now can add open water racing to her life-long resume.

The sport runs in her veins, and she’s been swimming competitively since age 8. Her brothers were college water polo players, and both her parents swam in college and currently coach. For college, Baxter decided to leave her family and friends at home in Fresno, California and headed 600 miles away to become a Sun Devil.

Over the years she has endured a shoulder surgery and more recently a broken ankle, but bounced back with full force with encouragement from whom she considers her biggest support: family, friends and “definitely (her) coaches and teammates.”

“I liked the team and heard good things about the coaches. It was Dorsey’s (Tierney-Walker) first season, so I was excited to be a part of her career here,” Baxter said.

Coming off those injuries puts a high anticipation on what Baxter will accomplish this season.

“She battled some injuries last season so we didn’t really get a full season in, so I think this year she’s already way ahead,” head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker said.  “She’s going improve on a lot of different things and contribute in many different areas in the season, and be a contender at the end of the year.”

Baxter has continually brought success to the swim team in her two years on campus.  To name a few accomplishments: breaking school records freshman year, and sophomore year received a Pac-12 Silver Medal in the 1650 free. She has qualified for NCAA’s both freshman and sophomore year, last year placing eighth overall, earning first team All-American honors.

“She’s set a couple of school records. I think she has brought our distance program to a whole other level,’” Tierney-Walker said. “She’s a good teammate, good student. All around she’s in her third year and the maturity I’ve seen not just as a swimmer, but as a person, is pretty awesome.”

Throughout her life, Baxter has had tremendous experience with indoor swimming as well as water polo, but also has a unique water sport on her resume: open water swimming. That’s racing 10k’s outdoors (that’s about two hours of swimming, non-stop!) Baxter said she considers her first experience in open-water one of her biggest accomplishments.

“It was a random invite from an open water camp, and I had never done it before and it sounded fun,” Baxter said. “They took us to the camp in Hawaii and at the end of the camp you do open water nationals. I ended up making Junior Pan Pacs for the US team.”

In 2011, she was a member of the US World University Games Open Water Team competing in China. She is also a current member of the 2012-2013 US Open Water National Team.

“Open water swimming is very unique. Ironically, her stroke or technique is very conducive to open water swimming. It’s a challenging event, she embraces it,” Tierney-Walker said.

A normal day for Baxter is back-to-back swimming, training and classes. And she says what most people don’t realize about swimming, is how much goes into it.

“How much we train, and how physically and mentally tough it can be,” she said. “You have to push yourself, you have people to race but it gets repetitive. But that’s something you have to go through if you want to reach your goals. I like the competiveness, I love racing. Especially when you do well, it’s the best feeling. I love the team aspect.”

Open water is also tough, but is very different than what Baxter is used to.

“I was kind of nervous the first time, it was really cold in Long Beach and in gross water. It was kind of miserable,” Baxter said. “I’m still adjusting to open water, it’s something different, it’s not starring at the black line the whole time. It’s the environment you never know what to expect.”

Baxter is unsure where her swimming career will lead her in the future, but big things are in store.

“I haven’t decided if I want to swim another four years until the next Olympics, but it’s not out of the question,” said Baxter. “I would like to make another US traveling team.”

Tierney-Walker has high expectations for Baxter for the upcoming season in the swimming lane, and beyond in open water.

“She’s coming off a good summer at the Olympic Trials and the US Open, she made the Open Water National Team again. I think she’s ready to take her swimming to another level. Develop more speed for the 200 and 500,” she said. “Open water only positively impacts her pool swimming. It’s definitely something I think she should think about for four years down the road in 2016.”

Fans can witness Baxter continue to shatter records and go down in Sun Devil history by attending the swim meets.

“The more support we have, the better it is. And, it’s fun to watch,” Baxter said. “I want to make NCAA’s again, and try and final there would be my main goal. Hopefully as a team we want to break top-10, which would be a big accomplishment for us.”

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