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Texas A&M Student-Athlete Spotlight: Breeja Larson
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By Timothy Durham
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

When you have six sisters, it might be a little difficult to stand out from the pack. But for sophomore Texas A&M women's swimmer Breeja Larson, she might have a little bit of an edge.

From Mesa, Arizona, Breeja's family consists of her parents and six siblings- all sisters. Aging from age three to age 21, Larson said that each of her sisters is very different and pretty crazy.

"My older sister is extremely religious, she's on a Mormon mission right now," Larson said. "The one just younger than me, Miki, is completely hilarious. She does a ton of different dramatic things. She's always keeping the family laughing."

Travelling from her home in Arizona to Texas A&M was a decision that Breeja said was made easy by her trip to the College Station campus.

"I had already decided before I started looking for that I was not going to the state of Texas," Larson said. "But then I got here and right when I stepped on campus, it felt like home."

Larson also said that head coach Steve Bultman and assistant coach Tanica Jamison were big influences in her decision.

"I'm a sensitive swimmer, if you yell I'll go and cower in my corner and I won't want to work for the rest of the day," Larson said. "Steve never yells. He's very kind. He'll never tell me what I'm doing wrong, but things I can do to make it better. And Tanica, I've never seen her mad at all. They're great coaches."

Larson said that because the Aggie squad is friendly and so diverse, gelling with the girls was easy.

"It's a very eclectic group," Larson said. "There are a lot of girls and a lot of different personalities. There's always a group going to the movies, always a group staying at home, always a group studying, so there are a lot of different girls you can hang out with."

But one thing Breeja said she was not ready for when she travelled over a few states was the difference in climate between Mesa, Ariz. and College Station, Texas.

"The humidity was definitely difficult for me," Larson said. "In Arizona, it's more of a dry heat. But here, you step outside for one minute and you immediately start sweating."

Although the heat may have been a different animal in Texas, it was not enough to keep Breeja's swimming success from blossoming right off the bat.

As a freshman at A&M, Larson showed her skills in the breaststroke as she eventually took down the school records in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events, both which were set by former A&M swimmer and NCAA National Champion Alia Atkinson.

Larson said that she has not been in contact with Atkinson, but knew of her prowess before coming to A&M.

"I definitely knew about her coming into A&M, and one of the reasons I actually came here was to train with her; I thought she was a junior!"

Larson also took a pair of runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships, again in the 100 and 200 breast.

"I knew I had goals coming in, I wanted to break one minute really badly," Larson said. "Talking to Steve at our team banquet last year, he said I came up to him and told him I wanted to get a 1:01 at the first meet, and he said we didn't want to get her hopes up too high. But then I got it, and they realized I had more potential and they never gave up on me."

This season, Larson is on pace to yet another NCAA appearance, and taking the top spot at the National Championship is one of her goals. She also has her eyes on breaking yet another record.

"I really want to break the NCAA 100-yard breaststroke record," Larson said. "I really want to go 57.00, and I think I can. I think with a two-day rest, I can get it with the taper."

Outside of collegiate swimming, Larson also plans to earn some success in international swimming.

"I want to finish top-four in Olympic Trials," Larson said. "I really want to stride for that. And competition is getting really tough. Looking at the winter trials times, those girls are getting fast. But I just want to try to give my best and we'll see what happens!"

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