For freshman swimmer Jackie Torrez, the transition to competing at the collegiate level has gone off without a hitch in a standout rookie season.
Last week, Torrez was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. About a month out from the A-10 Championships, Torrez hopes to lead GW to its first conference title in program history.
She earned the honor after guiding the Colonials to a 166-132 victory over George Mason at the Smith Center Jan. 14, capturing solo victories in the 200-yard butterfly (2:05.61), 200-yard breaststroke (2:22.45) and 400-yard individual medley (4:30.60), as well as two second-place finishes.
It was just one of many impressive showings Torrez has put on in her first year at GW, which owns victories over Rider, Howard, Georgetown and George Mason this winter. With Torrez in the pool, the future certainly looks bright for a team that graduated seven seniors last spring, but Torrez said she owes her success to her teammates.
“The team was so opening and welcoming when I first came [to GW],” Torrez said. “One of our main goals was to find your place on the team and support everyone else.”
The Whittier, Calif. native – who matched the most times a Colonial swimmer earned Rookie of the Week, tying Maggie Moss who last achieved the feat in 2004 – arrived in Foggy Bottom with a long list of accomplishments already in tow. As a junior at La Salle High School, Torrez took first in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke at the California Interscholastic Federation Championships. As a senior, Torrez again took first in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Torrez was the 54th-ranked recruit coming out of California and 442nd overall by CollegeSwimming.com, catching the eye of second-year head coach James Winchester.
Winchester recognized the role of positive team culture in Torrez’s development, noting that the way the team “culturally developed” better reflects the Colonials’ success than their final record does.
But Torrez’s growth can also be traced back to her willingness to put in the work, Winchester said. He praised Torrez’s work ethic throughout the season, describing her “personality of embracing challenges” as a key to achieving her big-time numbers.
“Jackie is definitely one of the hardest workers on the team and in the pool,” Winchester said. “When she comes to practice, she puts in her time, and when she leaves, she leaves it behind to really focus in the classroom.”
Despite her impressive rookie campaign, Torrez maintains humility in her personal success, especially because her swims are mentally and physically exhausting, she said.
“I have two events, [the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard breaststroke] and they’re mentally draining,” Torrez said. “Having the support of the team and having all of them there boosting me up when I’m feeling negative really helps me.”
In the coming weeks, Torrez looks to finish out her debut year with a strong team performance at the A-10 Championships.
“We’ve all been working non-stop since August,” Torrez said. “I hope at [the A-10 Championship] we do well and it shows how our hard work has paid off.”
But no matter where she or the program finishes at the 2017 league tournament, Torrez said she knows her teammates have her back.
“It’s easy [to support each other] since we’ve all had the same goals,” Torrez said. “And now [our goal] is to work hard and to work our way to A-10s and see where we go from here.”
Torrez and the Colonials travel to Geneva, Ohio to compete in the 2017 A-10 Championships Feb. 15.