Berkeley Christensen has been a driving force for the Campbell County High School swimming and diving team since the first day she jumped in the pool.
Now a senior, Christensen already has started putting the finishing touches on her high school career when she verbally committed to the University of Wyoming swim team.
“I really just love all the coaches there and the team atmosphere and just everything about it,” Christensen said. “The town is awesome and it’s kind of just everything put together that I really wanted.”
Staying modestly close to her hometown was another factor in her decision to stay in Wyoming for college, Christensen said.
Christensen has won five state titles in her first three seasons as a Camel. Halfway through her senior season, she has her sights set on winning two more individual titles to cap her prep career.
Swimmers are limited to swimming in two individual events at the state meet. Christensen won two state events as a freshman, two as a sophomore and one more as a junior last year.
Christensen won the 200-yard freestyle event her freshman year with a time of 1 minute, 56.11 seconds. She also won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 57.81.
As a sophomore, Christensen improved on both of those times, winning the same events with times of 1:54.64 in the 200-yard freestyle and 56.87 in the 100-yard butterfly.
During last year’s state meet, Christensen took first place in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:55.19. It was her third straight 200-yard freestyle championship.
Christensen also finished second last year in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 57.29, which was 0.28 seconds behind first place.
Christensen has earned all-state honors each of her first three seasons at Campbell County. The most exciting part of committing to UW has been the relief that has come along with it.
Now, Christensen has the opportunity to hone in on finishing her high school career strong both individually and with her Camel teammates. Looking ahead to the state meet in November, Christensen doesn’t just want to win individual titles.
“I’m super excited for what our relays can do,” Christensen said. “We have a few awesome combinations that we can put together and I’m excited for that.”
Christensen doesn’t know for sure what events she’ll swim in at the college level, but she has a good guess. Her butterfly and freestyle events are her best and she made that known during the Four Corners Spring Speedo Sectional Meet in Phoenix, Arizona, in March.
There, Christensen swam the 200-yard butterfly with a time 2:03.19. If she had swum that time in the Wyoming State Swimming and Diving Championships, Christensen would’ve set a new state record.
With more than 900 swimmers and a little more than half of them girls, Christensen’s time was good enough for 11th place at the Four Corners meet.
Christensen will have roughly 10 more high school swim meets to improve her times and prepare for the college level. But the Class 4A state swim meet isn’t the end of her swimming career.
Christensen’s swimming career at Campbell County will have been just the beginning.
Destined for Division I
Phil Rehard has been helping Christensen in and out of the pool since she was 8 years old.
Rehard, coach of the CCHS swimming and diving team, knew Christensen would be special from the moment he saw her. Some of the talent and potential he saw was natural, but what stuck out to Rehard the most was how determined and driven Christensen was to grow as the years went on.
“I definitely always thought she would be Division I caliber,” Rehard said. “Her times she was swimming in like seventh and eighth grade and her freshman year were putting her on that track and she just got better and better.
“She definitely deserves to be at Wyoming and to be at the Division I level.”
Rehard has had the opportunity to see Christensen grow and develop as an athlete for the last decade. It’s rewarding to see all her hard work pay off in the form of a college roster spot, Rehard said.
“When she came in as a ninth grader, we kind of knew that she had a shot at winning some state titles as a freshman and she ended up doing that,” Rehard said. “She was definitely a kid that came in with a lot of talent and she’s definitely been an awesome leader.”
What makes Christensen special as a leader for the Campbell County swimming and diving team is her ability to lead by her actions. Rather than using her voice to try and motivate her teammates, Christensen instead shows the younger athletes by jumping in the pool and using every practice to improve herself, Rehard said.
“She’s our leader by example. She’s not a big raw-raw, getting in your face type of person, she’s definitely our leader in the water,” Rehard said. “Everybody sees what she does every day and she’s out there racing every day in practice and trying to get better every day.
“That’s her leadership quality. She’s one of those, ‘I’m not going to say anything, but watch what I’m doing every day. If you want to get better, try to beat me in practice.’”
A true testament to the type of athlete Christensen has been at Campbell County was her reaction to finishing in second place in the 100-yard butterfly at state last year. Rather than pout or complain, Christensen got right back in the pool during the offseason.
“That’s just a part of sports, you don’t win every race,” Rehard said. “I think that actually ended up being a really good thing for her because now she’s really focused on that race because she doesn’t want that to happen again. It’s been pretty cool to watch that growth as well.”
Rehard will miss having his star swimmer in the pool for the team’s next season. But seeing one of his athletes commit to a Division I college roster is one of the many rewards Rehard has found in coaching throughout his long career.
Christensen will have one last state meet to showcase her talent as a Camel. She and her Campbell County teammates will have the opportunity to compete at state in their home pool at the Campbell County Aquatic Center.
With the weight of a college decision off her shoulders, Rehard has complete faith that Christensen will do what she needs to do at state at the end of the season.
“She doesn’t have to worry about that (decision) anymore and now she can just worry about the season and what she wants to do with her times,” Rehard said. “I think it’s a big relief to have it done with and having it be something that’s she’s excited and happy about. She can just focus on swimming fast now.”
The Class 4A state swimming and diving championship will be Nov. 4-6 in Gillette.