Becoming a top rookie in the pool

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By Jair Ramirez

The Riverside City College women’s swim and dive and water polo teams consist of Centennial High School alumni every year. But this year, a top rookie became the top performer.

Freshman swimmer and water polo defender Jessie Nelson hails from Corona, CA. She went from being a Huskie to a Tiger after graduating from Centennial.

The two-sport star started swimming at the age of four on a local club team and didn’t try water polo until she got to high school.

“Growing up my parents always told me I could try water polo once I got into high school and that’s exactly what I did,” Nelson said. “I played water polo since my freshman year of high school.”

At first it was a tough adjustment to play two sports but with a great support system she managed to persevere. 

“Having your family, friends and coaches there to support you is what helps to keep me pushing forward,” Nelson said.

Nelson decided she wanted to play sports in college her senior year of high school, but was undecided about what sport to play. 

She knew she didn’t want to commit to a four year college.

“My high school water polo coach Crystal Voss had talked about how much she enjoyed playing at RCC,” she said.“It was a great school to get experience in.”

After meeting women’s swim and dive and water polo coach Doug Finfrock during a practice and swimming for him, she knew that RCC would be a good choice to add to the list of schools she would attend.

“Following that, my parents and I went to meet him at campus along with women’s water polo assistant coach Sarah Greenawalt to confirm everything,” Nelson said. “That was when I decided RCC was the school for me.” 

She feels that the swim season was a success and the team proved it after conference competition started. 

“Throughout conference play not just myself but the whole girls team were experiencing major time drops which just showed how hard we had worked throughout the season.”

A big factor in her motivation is not wanting to let the people close to her down. Knowing that after college she’ll forever be done with sports. 

“All my years of training have built up to these final few years of swim and water polo help to push me,” Nelson said.

  Nelson was named Orange Empire Conference Championships Swimmer of the Meet this past April, leading her team to a second-place finish.

She won every event she participated in: the 200 IM, 400 IM and the 200 Breast.

Her 400 IM time of 4:50.13 broke Kelly Perez 400 IM time of 4:51.21 set at the 2017 OEC Championships for the fastest in RCC history.

“Winning one individual event would have been validating enough for me,” Nelson said. “Winning three and being named OEC swimmer of the meet is more of a testament to the hard work and preparation of our coaching staff.”

Although not sure if she will continue in collegiate sports after her two years at RCC she does look forward to having great seasons in both sports next year. 

Nelson is a double major Culinary Food Science and Business Entrepreneurship.

“I do plan to go into the RCC culinary program and finish out my bachelors degree in Business. Afterwards I plan to open my own coffee cafe/bakery.”

Her family is what got her to where she is now. Nelson has two older sisters, a father and a mother. They are an active family that include several collegiate swimmers and triathletes.

They are a loud boisterous family that loves being around each other.

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