Welcome to this special interview, #51 with former Biola swimmer, Two time NAIA Swimmer of the Year, and holder of 8 National Championships, Christine Tixier.
For those of you dreaming of competing in college, listen to athletes like Christine who have already traveled the road and are now looking back.
How did you get involved in swimming?
My siblings and I always did summer swim lessons at the neighborhood pool, and I think it was the summer of 2000 we did neighborhood swim team for the first time. My parents were wanting to put us in a sport that we could all do, so that we could all go to one place and they would not have to rush around town taking each kid to a different sports practice.
We enjoyed the summer swim team enough that we decided to join the local club team, the Tri-City Channel Cats, that fall.
From High school to College
When you were in high school, can you talk about your thought process of the priority of swimming in college?
Honestly, during the last couple years of high school, swimming in college was definitely not a high priority. I had been swimming for so long and was rather burned out. I enjoyed high school swimming, but I was very tired of the individual nature of club swimming. I was not even sure I wanted to go to college, but I applied to a few schools, some with swim teams and some without, to keep my options open.
What was your athletic recruiting experience like?
I was not very open to big schools with high-level swim teams, as I did not want swimming in college to run my life. So I really didn’t talk to many schools at all.
Liberty University was the only school that really was “recruiting” me, and it was a good experience. I had a lot of correspondence with the coaches throughout the fall of my senior year, and I appreciated that they wanted to know what I was thinking as well as provide plenty of information or even just talk about my thoughts on college. They invited me for a recruiting visit but I ended up not going because I decided against that school.
With Asuza and Biola, I had to show interest in their program before they reached out to me in the spring time, and our correspondence was minimal even then. So honestly the recruiting process did not do much for me.
Biola ended up being essentially my only option for school, and they were willing to give me some money to swim, so I ended up going there. Not a very glamorous recruiting story. But I am so incredibly grateful for the Lord directing my steps toward Biola, as I cannot imagine going to or swimming for any other school. Though I am not condoning the lack of recruiting at Biola, but what it does make for is a team of kids who want to be there and enjoy training and competing. And honestly that’s what I wanted in a team.
The Making of a Champion
The career of an athlete, even a successful one is not all roses all the time. Were there times at Biola where you struggled with the physical or mental strain? What kept pushing you to excel?
Oh boy. Were there ever. Especially after freshman year as school and life started to get real. It made for a lot of mental and emotional strain, not to mention physical exhaustion from training and studying.
College is definitely a time of discovering who you are and what you want in life, and that is hard enough without adding 20+ hours a week of exhausting training.
I think two things kept me going:
- Knowing that God had enabled me to swim fast and wanting to honor Him by working hard and using that talent.
- The encouragement and support of teammates and coaches who all understand where each other is at. That swim team loved each other so much. It was incredible.
You were named the NAIA swimmer of the year in 2014 and 2015? What did that feel like?
It was pretty surreal. It is just weird to know that out of all the swimmers in the NAIA, I was the one to get that award.
Click here to watch 3 minute video by the Biola University Chimes to hear Christine share her heart after being named the NAIA Swimmer of the year.
What do you attribute your success as a swimmer?
Well, for one thing, to God for giving me the ability to swim fast. It’s not like I train harder than anyone else in that pool. We all try to push ourselves and use what we are given. Also to my coaches from club, high school, and Biola, as well as my incredible Biola team mates. So much encouragement and understanding from my coaches and team mates, I have been very blessed.
Many parents ask me, is it possible to excel in sports and in the classroom at the same time. You were a two time NAIA Scholar-Athlete and two time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American. What would you say is the key to balancing the demands of school and sport?
Staying organized and aware of what you need to get done in the time you have. You definitely learn time management as a student-athlete. But take time to sleep—it is a mistake to not value time to rest.
The Athletic Impact
You have a lot of trophies on the wall and set a number of records. This is what all athletes are striving for, but looking back at your career, what are your favorite memories?
The things that stick out to me are the moments enjoying my team. I will forget my records and first place finishes before I forget the moments walking up to the blocks at Nationals while seeing my team screaming and cheering on the sidelines. Cheering for teammates as they make their first Nationals cuts, screaming my lungs out as one of our guy’s relay teams races in for a top three finish and celebrating with everyone immediately after.
One highlight was when the banquet dinner before Nationals was cancelled due to snowy weather, so we all went outside in our swim parkas and played in the snow as we walked a couple blocks to dinner.
Beach days, camping trips, and packed study rooms in the library with the team are some of my favorite memories too. But don’t get me wrong, I loved racing and feeling the surge of power through the water. But months of training for that would not have been worth it if I didn’t have such close team mates.
What are some of the lessons you learned swimming at Biola?
I learned how to keep pushing even when you want to quit. I learned the value of good friends. I learned the lesson of needing to have a good attitude even when you don’t feel like it in order to both respect the coach and encourage teammates.
How did your college teammates and coach impact your life?
For the Glory of God
What was it like to be at a Christian school and in a Christian oriented swim team?
One of the best things about being on a Christian team is that there is a whole different aspect to working hard and support and encouragement. We can pray together and encourage each other to work hard for the glory of God, we can talk openly with each other and our coaches about questions and struggles that are bigger than just swimming. There is just a unity among believers that is very real, especially on a sports team.
How has your relationship with God guided you through your college years to present day?
It has been so clear to me how God has guided me down good paths and brought me through highs and lows in order to know him better. It is an adjustment now being out of school and not having clear cut structure like I did for four years, but looking back on His faithfulness is the encouragement I need to keep moving forward and trust Him to lead me down more good paths. I love how He continues to grow me and show me new things about himself. It is so reassuring that He is the same God no matter where I am in life.
You had the chance to swim with your little sister Lisa for one year. She is still competing at Biola. What would you like to say to her? (the rest of us will just listen in)
I love you, Lis! Keep working hard as God gives you the strength to do it. Love your friends and seek after Jesus. And don’t have too much fun without me.
My sister won the 100 fly and 100 free this year at nationals. (5th year in a row a Tixier has won the 100 fly!:) 2nd in the 50 free too.
Here is an article about the Tixier sisters as Christine was finishing up her career.
Life Goes on After College
Immediately after graduation you had an internship in Indonesia? Can you tell us what you were doing and what you gained from that experience?
I was part of the team from Biola Biological Sciences Department that went to help with research at a state-of-the-art facility in Jakarta. We were able to contribute to a very small part of one of the research projects going on there, as well as be immersed in the culture and experience Indonesia. Being part of that team was such a cool experience; it was very exciting to use the knowledge and techniques we had learned in school to contribute to real research. It was also very cool to experience a new culture across the world.
What are you up now and what is in the future for Christine?
Good question, I’d like to know myself J Right now I am working as a barista, nanny, and private Chemistry teacher. It keeps me busy but is a nice break from school for now. As for future direction, I am looking into biology lab jobs and/or graduate school. Who knows what comes next. I am excited to see what good paths the Lord will lead me on.
Christine, one bonus question: What advice would you offer to young men and women hoping to continue to play their sport in college?
Next, take a look Journey to Greatness, another amazing former college athlete.
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