May 14, 2010
While many members of the UC Santa Barbara Athletics Department and the rest of the community will be taking part in Relay For Life on May 14th and 15th at Pauley Track, the event will be particularly significant for at least one Gaucho student-athlete.
Swimmer Courtney Bauer, who was diagnosed with lymphoma when she was only five, will be one of the participants in the survivor lap.
Bauer has been one of the main reasons behind the success of the UCSB swimming team over the past four years. She has helped win multiple relays at the Big West tournament, in some cases even setting new school records.
She remembers the difficult process of being diagnosed with lymphoma and undergoing chemotherapy, but she also remembers all of the support that she has received.
Bauer started swimming after a year and a half of treatment for cancer. Her mother thought it would be something good for her to do with her older brother, Curtis. She probably could not have predicted that the siblings would end up on the same Division 1 swimming team.
While Bauer does not remember all of the details surrounding her diagnosis and treatment, she knows that it has helped make her a stronger individual, and probably helped her succeed.
The process involved beginning treatment the very same day that she was diagnosed with lymphoma, as well as staying inside and being home schooled to protect her weakened immune system.
Bauer remembers that she's always loved swimming with her brother, and that was one of the biggest reasons she chose to swim at UCSB. The Gaucho swimming team has earned a reputation for being a family of its own, something which no other program could compete with in Bauer's mind.
"Courtney is a really good swimmer and a beautiful person," said head coach Gregg Wilson. "She's always been a team player and a great relay swimmer."
The environment, coaches, and teammates have enabled Bauer to thrive at UCSB. After switching to the sprinting group near the end of her freshman year, she has excelled working with assistant coach Naya Higashijima.
"Switching to the sprinting group made a big difference," explained Bauer. "That's when I really got into the sport mentally and became really dedicated."
Her first full year working with the sprinting group was capped off with an individual victory in the 200 freestyle event at the Big West Championships.
"In the back of my mind, I always knew that I was born to be strong," reflected Bauer on the way her life experiences have helped her excel in competition. "It's just always been in my nature."
To read about other UCSB student-athletes striving to BE Great, click here.