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Olivia Rosendahl was six years old. She was at a swimming lesson, and just for fun, the instructor would let the kids jump off the diving board.

 

"The diving coach ran up to me, and he told me that I should be a diver," she said.


Good thing. She started competing internationally by the time she was 10 years old.


Things kept getting better for the freshman from Los Angeles. Last year, she took home a bronze medal at the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea.

 

"It was amazing," she said. "It was the best experience I've ever had. And I got a chance to meet a bunch of people from all over the world who are doing the same things as you. It's just so inspiring to be around so many talented people."

 

Rosendahl was pretty heavily recruited coming out of high school, and it's easy to see why. She had a great feeling about Northwestern. She said that she really liked the people that she met on her visit.

 

Plus, a school like Northwestern allows Rosendahl the chance to explore the academic pursuits that she adores. She isn't sure what she's going to major in yet, but that doesn't mean she's lost. She just has too many passions to choose from. Maybe she could pursue international studies with some social policy mixed in. She could also throw in some French, which she speaks fluently. She even showed off her language prowess at the World University Games to the French athletes.

 

Things started with a bang for her at Northwestern. She broke a Norris Aquatics Center pool record from the 1-meter springboard that had stood for 15 years. She said she's going to try to break the 3-meter pool record as well.

 

Of the nearly 90 female divers who have qualified for this year's U.S. Olympic Trials, only four of them have done so in every event - and Rosendahl is one of them.

 

"Most people specialize," she said. "I'm kind of weird because I do all the events."

 

The trials, which take place in mid-June in Indianapolis, will be her second. And she admits that her odds for qualifying this year might be a bit slim. The trials in 2020 may be a better shot.

 

"But there are always odds," Rosendahl said.

 

Her performance has been noticed. Four times this season, Rosendahl was named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week. She was also named the Big Ten's Diver of the Week earlier this year, becoming the first NU student-athlete to win that honor since 2011.

 

She has surpassed NCAA zone standards in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform competitions this season. Every time out this year from the 3-meter springboard, she has registered a first-place finish.

 

"I think the season went pretty well," Rosendahl said. "It was my first season, so I didn't really know what to expect. But it's exciting to compete against all the people from all the different universities. I grew up diving, so I grew up with most of them. And then you all disperse into your different universities, and then you can still come back together and see each other at meets."

 

For now, she's just focusing on the Big Ten Championships next week. The Wildcats haven't had a Big Ten champion diver since Chelsea Davis in 2006.

 

"You always get a little nervous," she said. "But at some point, it's just like, 'This is what I have to do, let's go do it.'"

 

Rosendahl is also ramping up for the NCAA Zone diving meets, which take place in early March. The top five divers in each event from each meet advance to the NCAA Championships later in the month.

 

But as she said about her Olympic hopes, "there are always odds."


For more coverage of Northwestern swimming and diving, go to NUSports.com.