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Beating the Bear Lake Monster? Only a matter of lessons and practice

September 8th, 2014 Posted in Sports

By Katherine Larsen

NORTH LOGAN — It was 9:15 p.m. on a Friday. Tori Geller, a 15-year-old just leaving the Sports Academy pool after working her shift as a lifeguard, was going to sacrifice precious time from her TGIF night to tell me the history behind her recent headline-making swim across Bear Lake in 3 hours, 1 minute and 48 seconds .

Tori Geller emerges from the water after swimming across Bear Lake. Photo courtesy Deb Geller.

It all began with swim lessons, she said. Her mother, Deb Geller, made it a requirement that all her children become proficient in swimming. “I just always thought it was important,” Deb said. “We started swimming when they were really little, like mommy-and-me classes. We made it a family rule that everyone had to take swim lessons up to pre-team.”

After Tori completed her swim lessons, she began swimming on a competitive swim team. But she did not enjoy swimming competitively at first. “We kind of made her try swim team for a month,” said her mom. “Then that was it. She is the only one of her siblings that still swims.”

It was Tori’s first swim competition that was her turning point, Deb said. At 9 years old she finished her first meet with a time that nearly qualified her to compete at a state level, one of the highest levels of competition in swimming.

“I didn’t really like it at first,” Tori said. “But after swimming in my first meet, I started to like it more.”

It was her interest in swimming that kept her competing even when relocating to an unfamiliar country, Israel, and completing even more demanding training regiments. “It made me work harder,” she said of her time training in Israel. “Before I would slack off a lot, but after that, I worked hard on every set.”

It was these practices that improved her physical endurance as well as her mental toughness. “I think it was a chain reaction,” she said. “It made me want to work harder.”

It was this desire to work harder that helped her through a two-week training in Spain, which consisted of longer practices and more time doing land or dry land training. “It was a lot harder,” she said. “A lot more intense. The practices were longer and there was a lot more dry land.”

After a year in Israel, Tori moved back to the U.S. and last year began swimming on a high school team. But practices have not been any easier, says her mom. During high school season, Tori must attend morning practices for an hour and a half before school and two hour practices after school.

“It’s hard,” Deb said. “Her dad usually gets up at 5 a.m. to take her to practice.”

Tori’s typical two-hour practice consists of swimming between 3,500 to 5,000 yards, while her morning practices consist of mostly sprints.

This summer, during the high school off-season and after years of training, Tori heard of the Bear Lake Monster Swim. She thought it “would be cool” to swim across 7 miles of water with an average temperature of 66.2 degrees, with no wetsuit.

“It wasn’t really that hard,” she said.

Although she says no college recruiters have approached her yet about swimming, Tori hopes to swim competitively for a college on the East Coast once she graduates from high school. She says the thing that keeps her swimming is the challenge.

“I like how difficult it can be. It challenges you and makes you work hard.”

NW

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