Grill The Spartan: Erin Garcia

San Jose State University junior swimmer Erin Garcia is one of just seven upperclassmen on the 2008-09 roster, and its only San Jose native. The second-year Spartan and graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School finished 18th in the 200 individual medley, 22nd in the 200 freestyle and 23rd in the 100 free at her first Western Athletic Conference Championship last February. She was also a member of the fifth-place 800 freestyle relay, helping to contribute 28 points to the team total.

A business administration major with a concentration in accounting, Garcia hopes to graduate in May of 2010. She makes a first return to the school that she transferred from, UC Santa Cruz, this Saturday, October 18, for a three-way dual meet with the host Slugs and conference foe Fresno State. She took time out from her school and practice schedule to be our guest for this latest installment of Grill the Spartan on

1. What is one word that can be used to describe yourself?
Charismatic. I think of myself as outgoing and enthusiastic about a lot of things.

2. Do you have any pre-meet rituals or superstitions?
I always have my nails really obnoxious bright-hot pink. It’s something I’ve always done. Very rarely will I have them any other color. That’s pretty much it. Nothing too crazy. Listening to music as well.

3. Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
Atmosphere, he’s an underground hip-hop artist. He’s one of my favorites. Sublime, of course. Who doesn’t like Sublime? The Police, Stevie Wonder.

4. Are there any television shows that you watch week in and week out?
I don’t really watch television. It’s very rare, but I recently got into It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (on FX).

5. What are some of your favorite movies, actors or actresses?
My favorite movie would either be Wedding Crashers or The Shawshank Redemption. My favorite actor is Morgran Freeman, and favorite actress would be Kate Hudson.

6. Who are some of your favorite sports heroes? Any pro teams that you root for?
I’m the biggest Niners fan, born and raised. I think Dara Torres is pretty amazing. I don’t know how she does it. I don’t know how anybody, even younger, could do something like that, repeatedly year after year, decade after decade I guess with her. She just continues to raise the bar super high. I’m also a really big Warriors fan.

7. Do you have any favorite foods?
Milkshakes are my number-one favorite food, if you can call it a food. Vanilla in particular. I actually gave up fast food in May, so it’s kind of not as easy to get a hold of a milkshake, but Cold Stone (Creamery) actually has the best cotton candy milkshake. It sounds gross, but it’s so good. I also love sushi.

(The night before a meet,) I drink water all the time, and so I drink extra water, and I’ll usually have pasta for the carbs (carbohydrates).

8. What is your favorite San Jose State team other than your own?
I love the gymnastics team. Our teams are really close. They come to support us a lot, which is cool, because not that many people do. It’s fun to go watch them, and they are an awesome team.

When I was little, I actually had to choose between swimming and gymnastics, to just focus on one sport, and I chose to swim, which was good because I’m far too tall (5-9) to be a gymnast.

9. If you could be on any reality television show, which one would it be and why?
I don’t really watch too much TV, but I would have to say maybe like The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, because those women are just pathetic, and embarrassing. They have no athletic skill, and they are so dramatic. They need like a semi-normal person, who is athletic, on the show.

10. If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes, who would it be and why?
I would say my mother, because she’s the most phenomenal person, everything about her. I would just love to know what it’s like to even be half that nice and half that genuine about anything. And maybe, this is far more shallow, but Gwen Stefani, just because I think she is so cool. I love her style, and she seems like a more approachable celebrity, if there is such a thing, I guess.

11. Being a San Jose native, what is your favorite place to hang out in the city?
I’m particular to where I grew up, like the Alum Rock area, at my parents’ house, which is home. I went to high school in Saratoga, so Santana Row, that area, Los Gatos, that whole part of town. I really like it over there, too. It’s where a lot of my friends grew up, so it was like a second home.

12. What are some of the things you like to do when you are out of the pool?
Well, when I’m out of the pool, I like to get back in the lake. I love to wakeboard. That’s my most favorite thing in the entire world. I go to Lake Tulloch (midway between San Francisco and Yosemite National Park in Jamestown, Calif.), or the Delta.

I’m kind of a huge nerd, and I love to read. Nobody would ever really guess. I like reading biographies and autobiographies. I think a lot of music artists live these absolutely wild lives that you could never dream of, and it’s cool to read about the struggle that some people go through. I’ve also played piano for eight years.

13. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Where do I see myself tomorrow? Shoot. Location-wise, I’ll probably remain in the Bay Area, if not in San Jose, then San Francisco. I will probably be working in accounting, being my major and all, and if I do end up accounting, I would preferably like to live in the City, which is still close enough to home. If I’m so lucky, maybe married. If I’ve been married for a good amount of time by the time I’m 30, maybe have kids. I don’t know. Tough question.

14. What has been the favorite place you have visited out of town, and what would be your dream vacation spot?
My family used to have a timeshare in Cabo, and I absolutely love it there. Most people wouldn’t agree with this, because it’s really rainy, but I love Seattle. It’s a really cool place. Dream vacation spot? Oh, my goodness. Australia, maybe?

15. If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?
The Dalai Lama, Princess Diana, and Betsey Johnson, a fashion designer.

16. What has been your most memorable moment so far in swimming?
Winning the WAC Shootout (last weekend). That was amazing to see. It’s like something that you always talk about, and you know it can be done, because you wouldn’t be talking about it if it couldn’t. So, it was definitely within reach, but it’s just a different thing to actually do it, and see it all unfold and happen. Nevada’s a really good team. It was just so, so exciting.

17. Talk some more about this last weekend, when you guys went 5-0 at the first WAC Shootout. What was your weekend in New Mexico like?
It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a swim meet. The team just vibes really, really well. I’ve never been on a team where every girl genuinely gets along like 99 percent of the time, and everybody has the same goal. The team is very selfless. I feel like everybody really, truly wants the best for everybody else, regardless of whether you are competing for a relay spot with that person or not. Everybody was in an amazing mood, so positive. I never saw a smile leave anybody’s face the entire time. We were the loudest ones there, the most spirited, just happy with our team, happy with swimming, happy to be there, regardless of the outcome. I don’t think anybody’s demeanor would have really changed in a negative way (if the results weren’t good).

18. What are some of your individual and team goals and expectations from this season as a whole and the 2009 WAC Championship in particular?
I’ve been trying to convince Sage, and all my coaches my entire life, that I’m a sprinter. Recently, I’ve kind of proven the fact that I can maybe sprint. I got to swim the 100 free (at the WAC Shootout), and I’m going to be sprinting, obviously not the 50 (free), but I get to do the 100 far more this season, so that’s exciting to see what I can do as a sprinter and not have to do long events.

For the team, it’s unreal. The training level is so much higher than it was a year ago, across the board. Everybody trains so hard, and with the recent CrossFit that we are doing, it seems like we have basically been dealt a great hand. We just have to be smart, play our cards right, I guess, and continue what we are doing, because I see everybody on the team making it back for a second swim at (the) WAC (Championship) this year. It’s really exciting, obviously for myself, but, half of my excitement comes from seeing what my teammates could potentially do when WAC comes along.

19. What’s one thing that not a lot of people would know about you, that you would care to share?
I played classical piano for years. That’s pretty much it. Nothing too exciting.

20. How do you feel about the new addition to the team’s training regimen?
It’s like a love-hate thing. I feel good for doing CrossFit, because it’s really intense. At the same time, I hate it. It’s really tough. I feel like it’s making everybody tougher, both mentally and physically, obviously.

This week’s Grill the Spartan was brought to you by The Grill On The Alley.

2008-09 Grill The Spartan Editions
June 13 - Jeff Leightman, Women's Soccer
August 20 - Lewis Sweeney, Men's Soccer
August 27 - Junior Burgos, Men's Soccer
September 3 - Ricky Dorrego, Men's Soccer
September 10 - Augie Argabright, Cross Country
September 24 - Silvana Dukic, Tennis
October 1 - Aaron Conrad, Men's Golf
October 8 - Bradis McGriff, Football
October 15 - Erin Garcia, Swimming