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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Living out a Dream: Swim and Dive Captain Jaden Steen Reflects on Career

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  • Taking a quick breath, Jaden Steen ’24 races to the wall. As the last leg of the 200-yard-medley relay, she played an intricate role in gaining points for the girls during the Round Rock Opener.

  • Smiling, Jaden Steen ’24 holds up a 1st Place Trophy. Besides earning the most points for her age category during a Divisionals Meet for the Balcones Sharks this season, she also smashed a long-standing relay record with her fellow Westwood teammates.

    Jaden Steen
  • Waiting for the start, Jaden Steen ’24 prepares to shoot off the blocks. Aggieland at A&M is one of the most important meets of the year, so all swimmers choose to suit up in tech suits to give their best performances.

    Ivan Leong
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From carrying on traditions such as big sister-little sister activities to securing first place as part of the 200-yard-medley relay, Swim and Dive Captain Jaden Steen ‘24 has been a vital member of the swim team since her beginnings at Westwood. She now joins a legacy of Westwood swimmers as she leads a team that has dominated in the district for countless seasons. 

As a child, Steen spent her summers swimming with the Balcones Sharks where she met her best friends and fellow Warrior competitors Effie Castel ‘24 and Emily Partridge ‘24. Years of fierce and friendly competition later, all three continue to thrive off of one another. 

“I was swimming against Effie and Emily and I saw how good they were,” Steen said. “I remember behind the blocks and talking about their sub 30 [second] 50-free, and I was like I need to be able to do that.” 

As she neared 9th grade, Steen decided Westwood swimming was her ultimate goal. However, joining the famous Westwood swim team required hard work and dedication, and for this reason, Steen dipped into club swimming at Waterloo to help her swim faster. Unfortunately, swim tryouts didn’t go as planned, but that didn’t stop Head Coach McBrearty from seeing her potential and taking her on. 

“I tried out and messed up the dropout set,” Steen said. “I didn’t hear the person say go. And so then I was crying and convinced that I wasn’t gonna make the team but I did.” 

Now, Steen is a Regionals qualifier and a candidate for Divisional Swimming in college. The short-lived adrenaline rush during races and the long-term cultivation of her work ethic are both reasons for why she fell in love with the sport. 

“The direct correlation between my individual effort and my results was really satisfying to me,” Steen said. 

As her high school years passed, Steen drifted from Waterloo as she found a smaller club that would better suit her interests: Aquatex. With the help of Aquatex, she was able to regain new independence that could not have been achieved under huge enterprises such as Waterloo.

“Making new friends and developing a relationship with my coach, again, was a struggle, but I like it a lot better where I’m at now,” Steen said. “I feel like I can push myself more. And it’s not just my coach telling me what to do.” 

The competitive yet supportive nature of Westwood Swim has changed her perspective on swimming for the past years. Primarily, it has helped her focus less on times and rankings and more on the process, as she is determined to attack all her races with her best effort. 

“I love swimming so much because of the Westwood swim team and that’s made me want to actually swim in college,” Steen said. “[Success] used to mean times and getting faster. But now I think it’s how I feel after [I] swim. So instead of being super duper anxious and sick to my stomach, now [success is] just having fun and actually racing.” 

Becoming a captain means bearing certain responsibilities—completing the behind-the-scenes under pressure that nobody else understands. But Steen fulfills her duties patiently as she grows into a confident leader in and out of the water. 

“The team has given me so much and the Coach has given me so much that it’s nice to give back to it,” Steen said. “It’s very stressful at times, but I’m learning how to communicate better with people and I think that’s really important for me.” 

As a figure who has been watching her all this time, Head Coach McBrearty applauds her firm vigilance.

“She’s a defender of justice and cares about everybody. [She] looks out for anyone who’s not being treated well and speaks her mind,“ Coach McBrearty said. “She’s not afraid to tell it like it is.” 

Steen looks forward to diving into the next stage of her life. She hopes to find another family similar to Westwood Swim that will unconditionally encourage her in her future endeavors. 

“I’ve just been in contact with like four or five coaches more recently, with great engineering schools that I really want to go to,” Steen said. “I’m excited to find a new community somewhere else.”

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About the Contributor
Valerie Zhang
Valerie Zhang, Reporter
Class of 2024
Because of writing, the spontaneity of ideas that pop into my head in the middle of the night has transformed me into a night owl. Throughout the late hours, I cultivate my obsession with period dramas, sports animes, and pictures of swim practice sunsets. Other hobbies include learning languages, lifeguarding, and sleeping!

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