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Swimming record breaker heading to University of Idaho

For The Madera Tribune

Madera Coyotes record breaking swimmer Tara Goertzen shows off her University of Idaho sweatshirt where she will be attending and swimming for in the fall.


Tara Goertzen broke almost all of the Madera Coyotes’ swimming records and hopes to do the same at her next stop — University of Idaho.

“My family is planning on moving to Idaho because most of my family is there already,” she said. “I will be about five hours away from where they will be living. I get to experience my college life, but have access to them if I would like.”

She chose Idaho after getting recruited by the University of Sioux Falls and a few other colleges.

“I emailed the coach a few times,” she said. “I went on an academic visit to there. I happened to catch the swim coach just before their practice. He wanted to get me out on an official visit.”

Although Goertzen doesn’t know the amount of the scholarship she will receive, she knows she will be taken care of, in addition to receiving an academic scholarship.

“There was a situation that happened at the school with out-of-state academic scholarships and it changed the way athletic scholarships are provided,” she said. “They don’t know how much money they have left. I’m supposed to find out in a few weeks. They just doesn’t know if he can offer me a scholarship for this first semester.”

Goertzen, who carries a 4.3 grade point average and is ranked No. 5 in the senior class, plans to major in animal sciences to eventually go to graduate school under veterinary sciences to become a large animal veterinarian.

Goertzen is one of four Madera Coyote girls aquatics team members to be going to next level to either swim or play water polo.

“We all just grew up together,” she said. “It’s amazing that we can share that experience with each other and grow as a team and individually.”

Goertzen holds the school records in the 200 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, the 200 individual medley and all of the relays.

Her main events are the 200 freestyle, the 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle while the 100 breaststroke is her favorite event.

“It’s kind of weird to have those records,” she said. “I’m happy that I was a little memorable when I leave. I’m sure some of the freshmen or people on the team are going to get faster and break them.”

“I haven’t coached her too much,” Coyotes aquatics coach Erik Baymiller said. “She’s an incredible kid. It was super fun to get to know her. She is absolutely dominant and holds every one of our records. It is her characteristics and personality of getting to know her that sets her apart from everybody else. She’s fiercely loyal to her friends and sport. She’s super nice and a great kid. It’s an incredible feeling. There’s a lot of pride. Tara had a lot of other coaches. I had very little to do with that. I’m just super proud of all of them. It wasn’t unexpected. I knew during their sophomore year these girls were good enough to play enough at the next level. They did an excellent job.”

By signing and committing to a college, Goertzen is relieved to know what she will be doing, especially with the questions about the present.

“It’s really relieving because I’m not super stressed about college,” she said. “I’m already signed up for my classes and for a dorm. It’s takes weight off my shoulders knowing my future is planned.

“I am mentally struggling to stay sane. It’s mainly because I’m bored and stare at a computer screen for most of the day for schoolwork. Before then, my whole life was basically school and swim. Both of those have gotten taken away. That’s tough.”

Although Idaho wasn’t the first school she was looking at, she took a liking to it.

“My parents had been looking at colleges,” she said. “They told me Idaho has my degree and is a Div. I school. They wanted me to look at it. I did and loved it. They are very hands on and it’s a beautiful campus. The team worked very well together. The coach’s relationships with the team members really got to me. I never had that type of relationship.”

Goertzen was also a member of the two-time Div. II Central Section girls swimming team. She was hoping to get a chance at a three-peat this season, but the spring sports season was canceled just as it was getting started.

“We would have had a chance to win the Valley Championship,” she said. “It’s really sad. That and not having a senior night is heartbreaking. It was unbelievable to win a valley. It was such a crazy moment creating history like that. I always look back to it.”

Not only did Goertzen win two Valley Championships, she also won the first one with her sister, Emily, on the team.

“I have two older sisters that both swam,” she said. “My sister was on that first Valley team. It was incredible to share that with her. We go through so much together. To share that experience was incredible. We look back to it multiple times.”

Goertzen’s most memorable swim moment came during the first Valley Championship meet.

“I was the anchor of the 200 freestyle and Sanger outdove us for the last leg,” she said. “I beat the girl by a foot turn, which caused our team to win the race and Valley.”

For one of the most accomplished swimmers in Madera Coyotes history, Goertzen will try to blaze her trail at Idaho.

“I don’t really think about legacies,” she said. “It’s weird to think about because I’m only 17. I’m excited to see what the girls will have for next season. I’m excited about going to college about new experiences.”


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