UC High Student Athletes Compete on the International Stage


Svetlana Sowers

Junior Lia Sowers (right) poses alongside another teammate at the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Slovakia.

Sevilla Tovar, Editor-in-Chief

   Over this past year, two UC High students with exceptional athleticism have gone to represent their countries at international sports competitions.

This summer, Senior Kathryn Hazle went to the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii to swim for Team Canada, as she is a Canadian citizen. When she went to the Canadian nationals this past April, she qualified as one of the top two athletes under 18 for the event, and was selected for the 400-meter individual medley.

    Junior Lia Sowers attended the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Bratislava, Slovakia in early September to kayak for Team USA. She said, “The events I did were the single person kayak 1000-meter and 500-meter, the double person kayak 1000-meter, and the four-person kayak 500-meter.”

Both students were new to the idea of competing on a global scale. According to San Diego News, Sowers’s trip was her first competition outside of the U.S. (sdnews. com). Hazle said, “It was my first time competing internationally and I had the best time. It was such an amazing experience getting to race on the international stage and meet all the athletes from other nations.”

Senior Kathryn Hazle (middle) with teammates. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Hazle)

   Hazle said, “I’ve been swimming for almost eight years but did not actually begin pursuing racing nationally and internationally until around 2019.” Sowers, on the other hand, had only been kayaking for two years prior. She qualified to be on the USA team after placing third in the single person kayak 1000-meter and 500-meter in a national competition.

At first, Sowers was uncertain about leaving to compete in Europe. She said, “I was hesitant to go as it’s a lot of money, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience.” Sowers added that despite being nervous about the competition, she eventually got the hang of it and ended up making friends from all over the world.

   The 400-meter individual medley, the event Hazle did at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, has specific rules about its structure. According to USA Swimming, the National Governing Body for sport swimming in the United States, the event has four distinct parts. The first fourth must be swam in butterfly stroke; the second fourth must be swam in backstroke; the third fourth must be swam in breaststroke, and the last fourth must be swam in freestyle (usaswimming. com).

Hazle said, “For people starting out in swimming, enjoy it and try not to put pressure on yourself; performance and improvements come when you’re having fun.” Sowers said, “(Kayaking) takes a lot of work. Don’t get discouraged. Focus on using proper sprint paddling technique as it’ll get you farther and faster than any amount of muscle can.”