It’s ‘Summer’ and swimming year-round for SDSU’s Harrison

by Joseph Faria, Contributor

It feels like summer 365 days a year in Hawaii.

It’s home to many of the world’s top surfers, divers and swimmers. It was also home to Summer Harrison, who found a passion for being in the water when she was 8 years old.

Now, Harrison has turned that passion into success for the San Diego State women’s swim team.

For her, swimming is much more than a sport. It’s a lifestyle.

“I was born in Maui and raised in Oahu. My entire family consists of swimmers,” Harrison said. “My mom and my dad actually met on the swim team in college. Both (were) butterfliers.”

Harrison’s main events are the 100-meter freestyle and, to keep family tradition going, the butterfly.

“Swimming has been a huge part of my life. (At age 8) I started swimming competitively and I fell in love with it,” Harrison said. “And living on an island, there’s ocean everywhere, so you want to know how to swim.”

Even in the little free time she has, she still swims.

“I’m in love with the beach. And specifically, I love cave diving (in Hawaii),” she said.

Cave diving is something Harrison did almost every day when she was back in Hawaii.

“It’s like free diving, except you don’t have a tank. There’s this place called Shark’s Cove in Oahu, and I spent my entire summer there,” Harrison said. “It’s so much fun.”

Harrison swims for one reason: She loves the water.

“If I wasn’t in love with this sport, then I wouldn’t be doing it,” Harrison said.

However, she had a backup plan in mind if swimming didn’t work out.

“I’d probably be an art major,” she said. “I love art and I love painting. My mom is very artistic, as well, as she used to do murals. I would watch her when I was younger and I, too, fell in love with art.”

Harrison has decided to study communications, though.

She’s used those communication tools to develop a strong relationship with her head coach, Mike Shrader, and continues to impress him in the pool.

“She has been great, and so has the team chemistry this year,” Shrader said. “She trained really well (this past summer) and started off this school year very well.”

Even for Shrader, who’s coached 13 All-Americans in the past three years, there’s no denying Harrison’s success as a swimmer.

Four years ago as a 16-year-old, Harrison qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials. Last year as a freshman, she competed in the Mountain West Championships.

This past summer, she made her cut for the Olympic trials once more. She swam the 100-meter butterfly in all three of those events.

Harrison said her experience in last year’s conference championships was the most fun she’s ever had at a swim meet.

“I went into it not knowing what to expect since it was my first year. I really enjoyed it because of how close our team got,” she said. “We stayed focused and cheered our butts off (for our teammates). I loved the competition and I look forward to doing better this year.”

This year, Harrison has her sights set on the 2016 NCAA Division 1 Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, and hopes to make another run in next year’s Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska.