If there is one word to describe Marina, it is persistence. She has always been highly in-tune with her strengths and weaknesses and uses each to help move her swimming to the next level. Standing at only 5’6” she doesn’t have the height or body composition that many elite female swimmers possess, instead she has tremendous grit which keeps her firmly grounded in her goals. Marina’s coaches have had huge impacts on her career, Bob Bowman writes quotes on his practices and one always stuck with her “Excellence isn’t an act, it’s a habit” by Aristotle.
Marina grew up as a part of the Mission Viejo Nadadores where she swam with the notoriously distance oriented program run by former Olympic Coach, Bill Rose. Although she specializes in sprint races, her best performances happen when she trains 5k to 7k a practice, something that she attributes to her days on the Nadadores.
To the frustration of many of Marina’s past coaches, arm speed and power was never an area of strength.
“I remember watching the 2008 Olympics and it was really the first time, as a swimmer, that I had a lightbulb moment. Athletes were winning (and losing) races because of underwaters. I knew that this was my ticket into the next level of swimming. I have always had extremely high leg endurance and power so without any coach prompting, I spent every practice focused on underwaters, every kick set became an underwater set, and every wall had to have 5 or more kicks. Developing a skill takes time and patience and there was a period of time when I was dead last in every practice. Then, one day I was passing people I had never passed before and I was dropping insane amounts of time. I firmly believe that talent will only take an athlete so far, after that putting in the time and consistency to develop habits is the key to success.”
She was known throughout the PAC-12 conference for her underwater speed and endurance which means she really shines in short course swimming, particularly in butterfly, backstroke and freestyle. Body alignment and proper streamline can help you get the most out of each dolphin kick. She has spent years working to perfect the power and distance in each undulation. She says: “There’s no secret to being a great underwater swimmer besides being comfortable being uncomfortable. Find your flow and go.”
While it is true that much of athletic success is found in persistence, Marina is a firm believer in mental health. Coming from an intense distance team, such as the Nadadores was at times discouraging and difficult and surrounding myself with positive people was one of the ways that I stayed motivated through it all.
While Marina was team captain of the ASU team, she found that she was not so much of the outspoken type of leader but she preferred to lead by example. Encouraging the team to create a community that lifted each other up and celebrating personal victories instead of being in competition with each other.
As a former ESL teacher, she knows that every student has different learning styles and she carries that attitude over into her coaching. Not every drill or style of swimming is going to fit for each athlete but she encourages each person to try it out and find what works best for them.
While Katie [Meili]’s and Brett [Hawke]’s Olympic success is impressive, Marina’s story resonated with my daughter the most. Not everyone is going to have a medal, but you still give it your all. You are doing it for your “why”. And as my daughter said, ‘her story isn’t close to being over’! We wish both Katie and Marina much success.
-Testimonial from a swimmer in Arlington, VA