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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Dutch student emerges as SBCC’s swimming standout

Nicole Wong
City College swimmer, Rachelle Visser, swims freestyle on Wednesday, March 4, at San Marcos High School in Goleta, Calif. Visser moved to Santa Barbara from the Netherlands and is one of the top swimmers on the women’s swimming team.

It’s a Wednesday afternoon at San Marcos High School and Rachelle Visser is pacing through the pool as if water resistance didn’t exist.

The 5-foot-7 Dutch swimmer is one of the first to ever compete for the City College women’s swimming team. Her latest achievements include winning the Western State Conference Pentathlon title, and two more wins in the first WSC competition.

Visser’s journey started when she flew all the way from her hometown Leusden in the Netherlands to get a major in international business, but also to seek independence and adventure.

“I wanted to move out of Holland and do something challenging,” Visser said. “I visited Santa Barbara like nine years ago and I really liked it then. When I came back here, it felt like home. I love it.”

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The road to City College is different for everyone, and in Visser’s case it was a Skype video chat with swimming head coach Brian “Chuckie” Roth that led her here. When Visser was in the phase of choosing schools, the City College swimming team was still under development. Roth had been emailing with Visser and talking about the situation. After the Skype conversation, she went for it.

“I only saw his nose and it was really hard to hear him because my parents were talking loud and it was really chaotic. But I could tell that he was really friendly,” Visser said with a big laugh.

Roth said he is very happy to have an athlete of Visser’s capacity on his team.

“She is very talented, has a big love for the sport, amazing feel for the water and she is what you could call a true technician,” Roth said. “As a person she’s dedicated, funny, serious, honest and dependable and really everything you’d look for in an athlete.”

Visser has led the Vaqueros from the beginning and she has done it with great success. Last year was a great start for the newly assembled team that ended up finishing No.12 in the state.

This year’s achievements didn’t come from nothing. Visser has been swimming since the age of six, but at that point swimming wasn’t her first choice.

“At first I wanted to do diving, and then my parents said I had to learn swimming to be a good diver. I ended up liking swimming more than diving,” Visser said.

Swimming is a big part of her life, but it isn’t everything. After her five practices in the pool and two sessions of weight lifting a week, she has some spare time where she studies and spends time with friends. She also enjoys cooking.

“I like to cook a good meal for my friends, or just me,” Visser said. “Sometimes I make Dutch food, which is a lot of good stuff mashed together. Like mashed potatoes with bacon, onion and bell pepper. It’s awesome.”

Visser said she always tries to stay in touch with what is going on back home. Her favorite soccer team is the Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax. Sadly for the Vaqueros, she will soon be able to see them live as this is her last semester at City College.

But if it’s up to Visser, she will be back.

“I’m going home after this semester to study international businesses for four more years but after that I’m hoping to return, maybe with a working visa or going back to school,” Visser said.

Roth and Visser have a very good connection and they praise each other for the success of the team. Visser is very competitive and she does all in her power to help the team every day and that is one part of what makes her the leader for the Vaqueros. The second part is that she never gives up.

“I remember one time last year when we where last in the 800-freestyle relay and Rachelle went last. She swam so fast and she took in more than half a pool length and we came in second or even first place,” Roth said. “She really is the heart of this program.”

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