KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - Tahna Lindquist figured signing a National Letter of Intent would be like signing any other document.
Turns out she was wrong.
“I had this overwhelming feeling that this is it, this is my National Letter of Intent. That is a scary, but an exciting thing,” she said Monday afternoon at the Kodiak Community Pool.
Lindquist, fresh off a record-breaking senior state championship meet, signed her letter of intent to swim next fall at NCAA Division I University of Hawaii. She will be receiving an 80 percent athletic scholarship.
When the pen hit the paper, it officially marked the end of a brilliant high school career and the beginning of the next chapter in Lindquist’s life. She was joined at the signing by her mom, Tari, and father and coach, John.
“As a coach it is the finality that you brought a kid to a certain level that you always hope for, and not all make it and she did,” John said. “As a father, I’m just as proud as all I can be that she put just a great effort into something and be so successful at it, and it has paid off.”
Tari expressed the same joy by seeing the second of her three kids move on to the next level.
“I’m just happy that she is reaching her goals. Regardless of her talent level, she has set goals and has reached them,” Tari said.
With the advice of older sister Jori, Tahna picked Hawaii over Boise State University, University of the Pacific and Fresno State University. Jori, a sophomore swimmer at Northern Arizona University, reminded her younger sister it is important to like the team, not just the college.
“When I went to Hawaii I got that feeling that everything just clicked. The girls were amazing and the coaches I got along with very well,” Tahna said. “Everything just worked out very nicely.”
Tahna made her official visit in September. University of Hawaii Manoa is located on Oahu, Hawaii’s second-largest island, but most populated.
“The team took me out one day surfing for four hours and I didn’t want to leave,” she said. “I’ve surfed a couple of times here in Kodiak, but that was way better.”
Hawaii swimming, a longtime member of the Western Athletic Conference, now competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Rainbow Wahine finished fourth in last year’s conference meet.
Tahna said she thought about joining Jori at Northern Arizona, a WAC school. She visited the campus as a junior, and liked it.
“I kind of just wanted to do my own thing. Northern Arizona was definitely on my list. I wasn’t going to say no just because my sister was there, but I ultimately just clicked better with Hawaii,” Tahna said.
Finding the right teammates was important, especially for Tahna, who has swam with the same people for the last decade. She said she would never forget sharing the pool with her friends in Kodiak.
“I’ve grown up with these people my whole life and that is something I will never be able to have when I go to Hawaii. I have been swimming with these kids since I was a puffin (Kodiak Kingfishers), which I am coaching now,” she said.
Tahna finished as one of Kodiak’s most decorated swimmers. She set numerous school and state records, won eight individual - all in the 100-yard backstroke and 500 freestyle - and six relay state titles and was part of back-to-back state team championships, the first in Kodiak’s history.
Out of all of her accomplishments, she is most proud of being named the state’s top female swimmer three times.
“I would like to pick one specific swim, but I am really happy with a lot of my swims,” she said. “Getting that award it shows that I am a rounded swimmer, and that I didn’t just perform at state, but all year . to have other coaches recognize you is really important.”
The moment her dad will always remember was the first time she dipped under 5 minutes in the 500-yard freestyle her sophomore season. She finished her career with a best time of 4:53.50 - a state record by three seconds.
“I think it surprised the heck out of her, and her reaction was priceless for me,” he said.
Tahna is hoping to get a chance to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials - something UH trains its swimmers for - but in the meantime can’t wait to start her college career. Both her parents swam collegiately at Central Washington University and have helped her through the process.
“Not only them, but a lot of other student athletes have all told me the same thing, that those were they best four years of their life and they wouldn’t change if for a second,” Tahna said. “That is something that I am looking forward to.”
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