Standing on the blocks, a mental challenge begins as the swimmer prepares to launch himself into the large pool. As the buzzer goes off, he leaps arms and head first into the water, pushing his way past competitors so he can finish in the top spot.
Junior Lee Rivers is one of the top swimmers on the men’s swim team.
Rivers has been in the pool for most of his life, ever since he began swim lessons.
At the age of eight, he told his mom that he wanted to join a swim team after admiring the one that was practicing while he was at swim lessons.
He participated in club swimming from the age of nine all the way until his sophomore year in high school.
In high school, Rivers competed at state championships all four years and served as captain of the swim team for three years.
He had the opportunity to compete in multiple individual events, including the 500-meter freestyle and the 200-meter individual medley (IM).
When applying to colleges, Linfield was the only one he was considering that had a swim team.
Rivers is a two-time letter-winner for the swim team and now serves as one of the men’s team captains, alongside senior Chris Purdy.
He currently has the fourth best time at Linfield for the 200-meter IM and the fifth best time for the 50- meter backstroke. He also held some of the top season bests for the 2011-12 season.
Outside of swimming, Rivers is an English major with an education minor and plans to become a teacher. He also is a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. His brothers always come to his meets to cheer him on.
His mother is constantly seen in the stands during home meets and those in Washington, cheering him on. She also volunteers as a timer and runner at meets. Rivers’ younger sister is also a swimmer.
“Our swim careers are pretty similar,” Rivers said. “We both got kind of burnt out on swimming [during high school].”
During the past two summers, he coached the Rolling Hills Seagulls swim team consisting of children from the ages of five to 18. Rivers has held the positions of assistant coach and co-head coach and will become the sole head coach next summer.
“I got to experience the other side of swim team,” Rivers said. “The transition from swimmer to coach to swimmer is kind of weird.”
As a swimmer, Rivers appreciates the support that his coaches give him, including assistant coach Reid Kimura.
“When you are having a bad day, [Kimura] would just turn you around,” Rivers said.
With the new season taking a jumpstart, Rivers aims to keep his mind clear and focus on each race when it matters most.
“I just try to not let swimming into my head,” Rivers said.
Before each race, he shakes out each of his arms and legs. Then, when he is on the blocks and the crowd becomes quiet, he claps his hands five or six times loudly to help him become physically and mentally prepared.
“My goal is always to get better,” Rivers said, “and the way to get better is to give 100 percent when I get off the blocks.”
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Joel Ray/Senior photographer
Junior Lee Rivers is one the youngest of the four captains for the swim team. Rivers served as the co-head coach this past summer for a youth swim team, allowing him to experience swimming outside the pool.