Tixier, Eagles go out in style
Star swimmer breaks records, powers team to first-ever NAIA podium finish. | Courtesy of Biola Athletics
The Eagles entered the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Swim and Dive National Championship hoping to make a lasting impression in their final meet before heading to Division II of the NCAA next season. They exited with the title of NAIA Female Swimmer of the Year and their first national championship team finish within the top three.
The best for last
Junior Lisa Tixier clearly proved the Eagles’ best swimmer this season, but she saved her greatest performance for the national championship. Lisa shone in her individual races, winning the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly while coming in second in the 100-yard freestyle. Additionally, Lisa participated in relay squads that recorded All-American finishes in the 800-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle. She was not only awarded female swimmer of the meet but also NAIA Female Swimmer of the Year after her impressive 2016-17 campaign.
“It was really cool to finish that well,” Lisa said. “I really wanted to place as high as I did last year, but I knew was just going to do whatever I could do and I was really happy with [the result].”
A new record
Although Lisa set the new fastest time in Biola history during the 50-free, the marquee event of the meet, her other individual title carried even more personal significance. Lisa’s incredible :53.70 time in the 100-fly set a new NAIA record, breaking the one previously set by Biola Athletics hall-of-famer Christine Tixier — her older sister. Christine watched the race in person and became one of the first people to greet her sister after her record fell.
Although Lisa’s incredible feats and the string of great relay finishes definitely helped, it took an entire team to land the Eagles their first podium finish at nationals in their last NAIA meet. Freshmen Emily Silzel, Bethany Harper, Rachael Stinchcomb and Kaylyn Schull, sophomores Rebecca Brandt, Jenny London and Liliana Barrett, juniors Sophia Dammann and Samantha Dammann, and senior Haley Baker all contributed to the Eagles’ third-place total of 343 points. Their efforts did not go unnoticed by their superstar, whose face lit up when asked about the huge team accomplishment.
“That was so exciting,” Lisa said. “It was such a huge blessing to be able to do that well after we worked so hard this year and to get a trophy. It was really cool to be able to accomplish that for the whole team.”
Now that the season has reached its end, the Eagles officially said goodbye to NAIA competition and will gear up to start in the NCAA in Fall 2017.