About three weeks ago, Santa Clarita Christian School swimmer Victoria Kirshner’s priorities were shuffled.
Originally committed to swim for UC San Diego, which will be a Division 1 program next year, Kirshner has switched her college choice to the Merchant Marine Academy in Long Island, NY, which has a Division 3 swim program.
“It’s going to be very different,” Kirshner said. “I’m giving up a normal college life.”
By the time she graduates, Kirshner will be commissioned as an officer in the naval reserves but has the option to go active duty into any branch of the military.
With a grandfather who was a Marine, Kirshner was brought up in a family that has a great respect for the military. It was an attitude that affected her college decision.
“When it finally came, the opportunity to go into (the military), I was like, ‘oh my goodness yes,’” she said.
But before Kirshner heads to the academy to study either marine transportation or logistics and intermodal transportation, she has some unfinished CIF-Southern Section business to take care of.
In 2014, she won her first CIF-SS Division 4 title for SCCS in the backstroke. In 2015, she won the 100-yard freestyle and the 50 freestyle.
In 2016, she took home one title. The 100 free.
She won it with a time of 52.43 seconds. Currently, her 100 free time is 52.3 and her 50 time is 24.0.
“I’m training really hard right now. I’ve been training all year, and the goal is definitely to win both of those events,” Kirshner said. “Senior year will be really awesome if I can finish it off well.”
Coley Stickels, head coach at Canyons Aquatic Club, knows just how hard she can work.
“She’s good at remembering,” Stickels said. “We do a lot of unorthodox dry land stuff and drills in the water as well. She’s great at remembering a lot of the movements and she takes it seriously.”
“…I think he’s very diligent about what she does and she’s very exact in terms of race preparation and that stuff so I think that will come mid-May that will serve her well.”
Starting with Stickels four years ago was a shock to Kirshner’s system, but she now credits his training to her work ethic today.
“It’s like, what in the world are we doing? This is crazy,” she said of her first training session.
“He’s telling you to jump backwards and all this stuff and it’s insane. But then when you kind of realize that there’s certain movements that we do that specifically train for some things.”
At SCCS, Kirshner and her mom, Elizabeth, literally built the Cardinals swim program from the ground up.
“I went to Santa Clarita Christian and they didn’t have a swim team. I’m like wow, I have this talent, I can use it to help them,” said Kirshner.
She’ll be using her talents at the Merchant Marine Academy in a similar way. A swimmer who is fast enough for a Division 1 scholarship could really lift a D3 team.
Kirshner knows, though, that her time as a competitive swimmer is limited.
“I’m going to swim the next four years and try my hardest to get better at that. But after that, I’m going to be starting my career basically immediately. That doesn’t involve swimming,” she said.
“I’ve kind of realized what swimming has done for me and it’s given me the mentality that I have right now … My focus has shifted a little bit but in the end, it’s going to be something way greater.”