Breeja Larson is not your average Texas A&M student. Larson is an Olympian and gold medalist who's carried the Aggie spirit with her in every aspect of her success. The former sport management graduate student spent much of her academic career in the water competing at the highest levels of swimming.
Originally from Mesa, Ariz., Larson began swimming at the age of four. Larson and her family often participated in summer recreational swim teams. However, she began swimming competitively in high school at the age of 17 — an age she considers to be a late start.
Larson began attending Texas A&M in 2011. She enjoyed the uniqueness of College Station, the passion of the student body, and quickly became fond of the university’s traditions including the use of the word “howdy.”
In addition, Larson’s biggest reason for choosing Texas A&M was the opportunity to work with Texas A&M Women’s Swim Coach Steve Bultman. Unlike other collegiate swimmers, Larson did not have the base training of 10 or more years. She said Coach Bultman was very careful with her training, which she responded to quite well.
“Coach Bultman built me into the swimmer I am today. I was given the chance of a lifetime to be coached by him and to swim for such an incredible program. The entire staff is very caring and generous with their time. They do whatever it takes in helping their athletes fulfilling their dreams,” Larson said.
Today, Larson’s main races are the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke, and the 4x100 meter medley relay. When she first started, she was like a piece of talented clay that just needed molding, said Coach Bultman.
“She’s fearless,” he said about Larson. “She’s not afraid to get in the water and race anyone. It doesn't matter who she is or what she’s accomplished – Breeja is excited to compete.”
Larson’s work ethic stuck with her. She recalled how studying, training, and proper nutrition played a key role in her everyday life. Larson’s talents led her to the 2012 Olympics Games in London. Coach Bultman accompanied Larson as a critical part of the U.S Olympic team’s coaching staff.
“What made her successful right away was that she bought into the games what we had in mind for her and embraced the work,” he said.
Larson competed in the 2012 United States Women’s Olympic Swim Team and took home a gold medal during the preliminaries as part of the 4x100 meter medley relay.
“It can be a big mental game,” Larson said about racing. “I force myself to believe nothing but the impossible.”
Larson said that competing as a member of the United States Olympic Swim Team elicited a hidden pride for her country.
“Before the Olympics, I didn’t wear the American flag much, and now to me it’s the biggest honor,” she said. “You’re representing your family, your school, your state, your town; just everything about you represents the American dream.”
Most recently, Larson competed in two races during the 2016 Olympic trials held in in Omaha, Neb. Despite not placing in the finals, she still treasures the opportunity to swim and represent her country.
“It comes with a lot of responsibility because you will forever be known as an Olympian and everything you do past that point will be reflected on the Olympic committee, your town, your state, and your family,” she said. “However, I don’t think there’s a greater honor when representing the most powerful country in the world. It’s a selfless honor.”