At 13 years old, Riley Botton is one of the top up-and-coming swimmers training with Paseo Aquatics. She’s also a second-degree black belt in karate.
Although she’s focused primarily on swimming at this point in her life, Botton acknowledges the similarities between the two sports.
“I think that reaction timing in karate helped me with my swimming and the flexibility helped me, too,” said Botton, an eighth-grader at Arroyo Seco Junior High.
More than just the physical similarities, though, her excellence in both sports can be attributed to one character trait of Botton’s: never willing to accept something as “good enough.”
Botton is capable in the 50-meter freestyle, the 100 free, and the 200 free. At a time of one minute, 54.30 seconds, she holds the Paseo Aquatics record in the 200 freestyle.
In the 50 free, she is only three-tenths of a second away from breaking Julia Wolf’s Paseo Club record.
She currently holds a time of 24:03 in the 50 free, which has gotten her an invite to the USA Swimming Futures Swim Championships, which will take place in August.
At futures, she’ll be competing against swimmers five years her senior.
“That’s really important in maturation for swimming,” said Paseo Aquatics coach Chris Dahowski. “She’s got to be able to understand that. I tell her this all the time that the pressure you feel at these races is a privilege. You’ve earned this.”
For inspiration, Botton looks to former Saugus High swimmer and Olympian Abbey Weitzeil. The two have met several times, and Weitzeil never fails to impress.
“I just think being next to an Olympian is so cool and she just seems like such an amazing swimmer,” said Botton. “It’s an honor to be next to her.”
Dahowski believes that Botton’s work ethic matches that of an Olympian, too. Whether in the water or in the weight room, Botton is always outworking those around her.
For that reason and more, Dahowski is pushing to get Botton into the USA Swimming Junior Nationals by the time she is 14 years old.
“…She knows there’s athletes out there that are faster than her,” Dahowski said. “That’s why she trains hard. Even though Riley knows she’s good, it’s not good enough for Riley.
“That’s what makes Riley different. It’s not good enough for her. And that’s like a dream come true for a coach.”