Sydney Tran staff writer
Strenuous practices, draining exercises and the near-constant scent of chlorine in the air have been an integral part of swimmer Amy Okada’s life for years.
Olympic trial qualifier Amy Okada has dedicated much of her life to her swimming career, and it has paid off. Okada verbally committed to continue her career at UCLA in the fall quarter of 2016.
After receiving letters and emails from various schools and coaches scouting her for her Olympic-level swimming abilities, Okada attended the athletic recruiting day this summer in order to be formally scouted.
“July 1 is the official recruiting day where any coach can call you and recruit you to talk about their school and program,” Okada said.
After years of being courted by UCLA, Okada decide between the two schools that were pursuing her, UCLA and UC Berkeley. In the end, however, UCLA’s persistence was the deciding factor.
“I was stuck between two schools, but I realized UCLA has been watching me and had been interested since my freshman year. I knew they wanted to coach me and help me become stronger,” Okada said.
Okada looks forward to being able to both receive an education from a top university, ranked by Forbes as #45 in their list of top American colleges and universities, and further pursue her swimming career.
“I’m so happy to be admitted to UCLA because it is a very rigorous school to get into,” Okada said. “Training hard, doing well in school and having my friends, family, teachers and coaches really helped and supported me to get to this point.”
Okada has had to alter her schedule and education in order to cater to swimming. Currently, Okada is enrolled in independent study which allows her the flexibility to balance her athletics and her academics.
“Independent studies really focuses on being independent, and it has helped me focus on swimming a little more because I get the attention I need from one-to-one classes with my teacher,” Okada said. “I am able to learn more than a week’s worth of school because my recruiting trips would have gotten me so behind at school, but independent studies has helped me keep moving forward and not get behind in school, which was a little hard my junior year. I was able to manage, but I’m really fortunate to be able to be in the program among the other 16 students.”
For a student like Okada, who wants to major in either microbiology or kinesiology, the opportunities presented to her by her immense efforts in swimming are greatly beneficial. Okada is excited about how she can now study at a major research university, ranked as Forbes’ #24 research university, and still receive support and encouragement in her swimming career.
“I feel so relieved that I don’t have to think about all apps and college because for athletes being recruited you’re officially admitted when you sign in November,” she said. “I really feel accomplished and super excited that my hard work and dedication has paid off!”