Rodriguez, 20, a criminal justice major, raced in the state championships this spring and now holds 12 SWC records.
“She has always had a natural swimming ability,” said SWC swim coachMatt Ustaszewski.
Rodriguez began swimming lessons when she was four and began competing at six. She won her first competition.
“Nobody thought I was going to win because I was barely starting on the swim team,” she said.
Entering her teenage years Rodriguez said she was unsure about her swimming future and admitted to losing motivation.
“For swim you always try to set a goal to make a time,” said Rodriguez. “Instead of swim meets you try to go to Junior Olympics.”
During her freshman year in high school she felt a rekindled desire to continue swimming and to try water polo. She starred at both.
She owns all four relay records for Otay Ranch High School and a pool full of awards. During her freshman year at SWC she was not the best on team she said, and was motivated to improve. At her first conference competition she surprised herself and teammates by winning big and setting records.
Competition is something she welcomes and she enjoys high-level showdowns.
“There is always those couple girls you want to beat,” said Rodriguez.
Though many seemed surprised by her late-season domination, her coach was not.
“She dedicated herself to improving and getting better,” said Ustaszewski. “It was really nice to see her perform at that level because she had put in all that effort.”
Jennifer Harper, her water polo coach, said Rodriguez has all the characteristics of a successful person.
“She is competitive. That with being smart makes you a good athlete and she has a really good work ethic,” said Harper. “So when she is in the water she works hard every day and that’s how she gets better and better.”
Her siblings are following in her wake. Rodriguez’s sister, Mariela 17, is on the ORHS swim and water polo teams. Her freshman brother is on the soccer team, and is now trying water polo.
Rodriguez said her family and friends have always been there to support her at meets. Her most recent was the most memorable of all, she said. Competing for state championships, she added, was her proudest accomplishment.
Rodriguez likes to spend her spare time with her friends and watching her favorite criminal case-solving shows. Her interest in criminal justice began when she attended the Academy of Justice and Criminology at ORHS, and said she would like to become an investigator or detective one day. Rodriguez is working to wrap up her academics so she can transfer to San Diego State University in the spring of 2012. In the meantime, she works a lifeguard at the SWC pool and Chula Vista YMCA.