Athlete of the Week: Sophie Rotival

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Sophie Rotival ’25, a first year from Seattle, Washington, won two golds in the 100 and 200 Y Breast and a silver in 200 Y IM this past week, as both Swarthmore men’s and women’s swimming won their Centennial Conference Championships. 

Jacinta Fernandes-Brough: How are you, and the team, feeling after winning the Centennial Conference Championship?

Sophie Rotival: It feels incredible and surreal at the same time. The team and I feel very excited, ecstatic, and exceptionally accomplished. Our win represents exactly how hard each and every person on the team has worked — not only this season, but over the past few years when sophomores, juniors, and seniors were unable to compete due to the pandemic. Despite the joy, it is bittersweet to know that the season is over and that many members of this year’s men’s and women’s teams will be leaving us. 

JF: What has been your most memorable moment of this season? 

SR: The first day and first race of our Conference meet: I was in the 200 medley relay as the anchor swimming freestyle. As I was on the blocks, getting ready to dive in, the amount of support and excitement I felt from my teammates, both on and off the relay, was a level of encouragement I had never felt before. The positive energy and adrenaline that filled the building with chants and noise was thrilling, to the point where it sounded like white noise, creating a sense of suspended reality I had never experienced in my life. To hit the wall after my 50 and look up to see my relaymates and teammates screaming and jumping up and down in reaction to our first-place finish really inspired me and set the tone for the rest of our meet!

JF: What is your favorite thing to do with the team outside of practice?

SR: Dinner with teammates and friends at Sharples!

JF: Do you have any pre- or post-meet rituals?

SR: I wouldn’t call them pre-race rituals, but I love cheering for my teammates and lifting others up, spreading as much positive energy as possible — as Coaches Sam and Karin always say, “happy swimmers are fast swimmers!”

JF: Why did you choose Swarthmore?

SR: I chose Swarthmore because of the strong academic and collaborative environment, beautiful campus, excellent coaching staff, and most importantly, the culture and students that attend this school.

JF: What is your major and why?

SR: I have not decided on my major — I am, however, very interested in Political Science & International Relations. My childhood was a product of my mother’s American and globe-trotting roots, my father’s French-West African experience, and our family living in Asia, Turkey, Europe, and the U.S. I never cease to be fascinated by new cultures as well as geopolitical and current events. My family, travels, and experiences continue to shape me and the choices I will make in my academic pursuits. 

JF: What is your favorite class you’ve taken at Swarthmore?

SR: Since I am a first-year student, I have only completed one semester at Swarthmore so far; however, my favorite class has been Introduction to Global Studies with Professor Ayse Kaya Orloff. 

JF: Favorite Sharples bar?

SR: Definitely the ice cream bar!

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