Nishizaki: From Hydrophobe to Star Swimmer

Cayla Nishizaki PZ ’17 has not
always been in love with the water. In fact, at the age of eight, Cayla
had not even been in a pool. However, Cayla began loving the sport after joining the same team as her older brother Devin Nishizaki CM ’15, and wound up as a star swimmer in high school. Now, swimming against her brother just across Sixth Street, Cayla is heading into
her second season with the Hens after a record-filled first year as a freestyle sprinter
for Pomona-Pitzer.

Although her brother began swimming at a young age, Nishizaki
remembers having a deep aversion to water, even after her parents tried to
urge her to learn how to swim.

“I was completely afraid of
water as a child,” Nishizaki said. “Even when I showered, I had to
hold my breath when my face was close to the water.”

Eventually, it took an invitation
to a friend’s birthday pool party for her parents to set up an ultimatum:
learn how to swim, or do not go to the party.

“They ended up enrolling me in
swim lessons because I wanted to be able to swim with my friends,” Niskizaki said. “Even though I
hated them, I started to like the pool more when I could play around with my

Since then, Nishizaki has been immersed in the sport. She notes that her parents have
always been supportive of her and often come to her meets,
even if it means traveling.

When it came time to decide about
college, Nishizaki naturally looked at the 5Cs, where her brother attended CMC. She visited both CMC and Pitzer, but she eventually chose Pitzer because of
the swim team’s impression on her.

“I had my interviews for CMC
and Pitzer on the same day and met with both of the swim coaches,”
Nishizaki said. “I liked both places, but I immediately connected with the
people on the Pomona-Pitzer team and especially with [head coach Jean-Paul Gowdy].”

Nishizaki wasted no time swimming up to speed on the P-P team. During her first year, she broke well into the top-10 all-time records for the P-P swim team, becoming the fourth-fastest in the 50 free and fifth-fastest in the 100 free in the team’s history. In
addition, Nishizaki made the A-finals in SCIAC championships in both the 50 and
100 freestyle and was part of a school record 200-yard freestyle relay.

Nishizaki’s teammates also note her enthusiastic attitude and ability to combine
humor and competitiveness throughout the season.

“Cayla’s got one of the best
attitudes on the team,” Maddie Larkin PO ’17 said. “Whether she’s
blasting Taylor Swift’s new album in the locker room or cheering for her
teammates on a crucial 400 free relay, we can all count on Cayla to be
genuinely excited. Her goofy sense of humor helps the team relax at big meets,
yet she’s consistent in races and will do everything she can to hit the wall

Ali Queen PZ ’17 agreed that Cayla brings a positive attitude that both creates an enjoyable environment and pushes the Hens to practice hard. 

“As a sophomore, she has already made an
extensive impact on the team,” Queen said. “Every day she comes to practice with a positive,
fun attitude and the mentality to work hard, which she has clearly demonstrated
while representing P-P swim and dive.”

Nishizaki will look to continue her
success in the pool this year and recognizes the team’s significant role in pushing her to fast times. 

“Everyone on the team is here
not only because they want to succeed individually, but because they want to
see everyone else also do well,” Nishizaki said. “The support is really
what keeps me going, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.”

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