Friday Feature: Swimming Senior Class

The San Jose State University women’s swimming and diving program will bid a fond farewell to four valuable fourth-year members this Saturday, February 7, on Senior Day at The Aquatics Center on campus. The first of 16 events against the rival Bulldogs of Fresno State is slated for an approximate 12:00 p.m. start, following a special ceremony recognizing Beste Erener, Lauren Mar, Katey Nelson and Tarolyn Robertson, for their tremendous contributions to the program ahead of their final home appearance.

The quartet played a vital role in helping San Jose State to three consecutive program-best fourth-place Western Athletic Conference placements, with their sights set on a top-three finish, at minimum, at this year’s event later this month in San Antonio, Texas. All four swimmers have been exemplary student-athletes during their time at San Jose State, each having earned multiple all-conference honors athletically, as well as academic all-conference distinction.

In addition to their numerous collective athletic and academic accolades, all four are scheduled to complete their undergraduate degree requirements by December.

For this week’s Friday Feature, we asked Beste, Lauren, Katey and Tarolyn to tell us about their fondest memories donning the blue and gold, what they take away from their experience as San Jose State University student-athletes, and what’s next.

Beste Erener
Strokes: Fly, Back, Breast
Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey
Major: Advertising
Minor: Business
Expected Graduation Date: December, 2009

Spartan Memories
“As a Spartan, I had so many good memories over the past three years. I was always impressed by my teammates, how everyone was there for each other, showing their real support, even though we had an individual sport. The team was always first. The team always came before ourselves.

“I can’t emphasize enough, how amazing a season we are having this year, both in and outside of the pool. The team is so focused, and that helps us swim faster in every other meet. The most exciting moment of the year was the WAC Shootout, when we got first-place and beat Nevada after so many years. We worked so hard, and it finally paid off. We were so loud, so together, so excited to do well. We really wanted to be the champions, and were, the “champions.” We believed in ourselves and we never gave up.

“My second top memory was this year’s Nike Cup. Nike Cup is a very fast meet, and there are a lot of schools there. Now when I think about it, I am just so proud of my team that we got second-place among 24 schools. All I remember is how every single one of my teammates did so great. We all performed very well. I was so excited to watch every single swim and see how well we were doing. I got goosebumps throughout the meet because we were all so impressive.”

The San Jose State Experience
“I take away so many things with me overall from my four-year experience at San Jose State University as a student-athlete. I must say that being a student-athlete was one of the biggest challenges of my life. It was not easy to take on that many responsibilities, and cope with everything. However, it was very important to manage and deal with it. I learned a lot from my coach, Sage, from my teammates, and from all of my races.

“I was struggling with the cultural difference, and every other difference from my country when I first arrived. After a while, I learned how to cope with them. I learned how to approach things differently. I learned so many other things, that I can’t mention them all.

“Now, I will take all of my good and bad memories from my student-athlete life with me, and apply them to my future, so I will not have the same problems. I am so glad that I came to America, took this great opportunity, and had the best experience of my life. I know it will help me a lot in the future. It will make me different than so many others.”

What’s Next?
“My biggest goal after swimming is over, is graduating in December. After that, I will look for a job in San Francisco in an advertising agency. I really want to use my OPT (Optional Practical Training) opportunity that is given to international students by the U.S. government. I think that it is a great opportunity for me to gain some work experience before I go back home (to Turkey) and get a good job.”

Lauren Mar
Strokes: Free, Back
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
Major: Business Administration, Concentration in Marketing
Expected Graduation Date: December, 2009

Spartan Memories
“A top one would be, obviously from my freshman year, winning the 200 freestyle relay. Also, there was the WAC Shootout this year. It was the first time that it was ever held. Our program has come a long way, and it was just really great to be able to win that first one. Beating Nevada is another one. I remember we tied them, and we lost by a point (in past meetings). That was pretty frustrating, so I’m glad that we were able to beat them this year.”

The San Jose State Experience
“What I take away are a lot of great relationships with the girls that I have swam with. You’re not going to have that special bond with another group like that, because you’re spending 20-plus hours a week with them. You have your ups and downs, but you have others you can count on. Coming here and not just being a San Jose State student, but being a student-athlete, has been such a privilege. I take away a lot of pride in being a teammate, being a leader, and being a part of something (the swimming and diving program) that has done so well.”

What’s Next
“I’m starting a marketing internship in the athletics department. I’m also going to look for another internship for the summer. If I find one, I might continue school until the spring of 2010. If I don’t, then I’m going to try to finish school in the fall, and then try to find a job, hopefully in the Bay Area.”

Katey Nelson
Strokes: Back, Free
Hometown: Santa Rosa, Calif.
Major: Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management
Minor: Business
Expected Graduation Date: December, 2009

Spartan Memories
“I’ve had a lot of good memories, but one of my top ones was winning the WAC Shootout and beating Nevada this year. Most of them come from this year, because I’m a senior, and we’ve probably been the most successful (this year than any) since I’ve been here. Just training and everything else in general with this group of girls has been great.”

The San Jose State Experience
“I loved every moment of being here, being away from home. I’ve loved the people I’ve met. I met a lot of good friends when I was living in the dorms. A lot of my friends are on other (Spartan) teams. I just really liked the atmosphere, and living near campus. I gained a lot of knowledge about life.”

What’s Next?
“This summer, I have to get an internship, because it’s required for my major. After that, I have one more semester, and then I’m just going to try to find a job. I don’t exactly know (what type of job I want), and the job market is really hard right now, but anything that’s available would be fine to start out with. I definitely want to stay in San Jose, or maybe move to Southern California in the future.”

Tarolyn Robertson
Strokes: Fly, Free
Hometown: Santee, Calif.
Major: Business Administration, Concentration in Finance
Expected Graduation Date: May, 2009

Spartan Memories
“This is a really hard question, because so many events stand out for me. As a junior, I was able to be the anchor leg of the 200 free relay at the WAC Championship. We were able to break the school record and win. To stand atop the podium with my teammates, was an amazing feeling. As for this season, I am at a loss for words. Up to this point, we have had a practically perfect season. We’re 15-1. What team could ask for a better season? When Sage told us we had won the WAC Shootout, seeing everyone jump up and down, screaming and smiling, is something I will never forget. I was able to experience that yet again this past weekend against Nevada at home. Not only was the meet against Nevada another team win, but I swam a best time for the first time this season. The cheering, the support and the friendships are all amazing on this team. I couldn’t ask for a better senior season.”

The San Jose State Experience
“In my four years here at San Jose State, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I’ve struggled with swimming at times, thought classes were too hard to handle, and definitely missed my home and family a lot. While I say there were ups and downs, the downs only made me stronger as a person. They have taught me that success comes with hard work. I have loved my time as a student-athlete and wouldn’t have changed a thing. I have been given the opportunity to work with so many girls over the four years on the team, and because of that, I’ve made some amazing friends. Not only am I friends with my own teammates, but with athletes on other teams. When you ask what I’m taking away from being a student-athlete, I definitely have to say four best friends. Without them, my college experience wouldn’t have been the same. With all this being said, I would really like to thank my teammates, coaches, family and friends for all their support and making my four years amazing.”

What’s’ Next?
“To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what I will be doing once May comes. I am looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life, one without class and swimming. I am currently beginning to apply for jobs, but am not sure exactly what I want to do. I hope to either stay in the Bay Area or move back home to San Diego to be with my family. Many decisions have to be made in the next few months, but I’m looking forward to enjoying my last few months of college and my last conference championship meet.”

2008-09 Friday Features
September 19 - David Richmond, Football
September 26 - Yonus Davis, Football
October 3 - Hiroki Akiyama, Men's Soccer
October 10 - Homecoming Spartan Style
October 17- Jessica Ingram, Women's Soccer
October 24 - Coye Francies, Football
October 31 - David Haefele, Men's Cross Country
November 7 - Travis Jones, Football
November 14 - Men's Soccer Seniors
November 21 - Football Seniors
December 5 - Lauren Mar, Swimming

December 12 - Student-Athlete Success Services

January 16 - Heather Denman, Swimming

January 23 - Chris Oakes, Men's Basketball

February 6 - Swimming Seniors