Jan. 26, 2020
Christine Tixier, a junior from Benton City, Wash., made history by becoming Biola’s first ever National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Women’s Swimmer of the Year.
She secured this title with a thrilling performance at the NAIA Swimming & Diving national championships in Oklahoma.
Tixier entered the four-day meet as a two-time defending national champion and NAIA record-holder in the 100-butterfly and was expected to place first in that event for the third consecutive year. She did that, which was special, but it was everything else she did at the meet that helped her secure the prestigious national honor.
The junior swam in three individual events at the meet: the 100-butterfly, 200-butterfly and 200 Individual Medley. She ended up winning individual national titles in each of those three events, tying her with Laura Galarza of Oklahoma Baptist for the most individual championships at the meet.
Her 200-IM title was the first of the bunch, as she finished with a 2:04.48 to finish 1.5 seconds ahead of the second place student-athlete on the first full day of competition at the championships.
She broke her own school record by more than two seconds with that successful swim.
“The 200-IM was the weakest of the three events she was slated to swim at this meet,” said Head Coach Eddie Shepard. “She has been working so hard on it all year, so I was especially excited when she won the national title.”
Her signature 100-butterfly was the next championship she brought in. She took this one with an advantage of just over a second over OBU's Lisa MacManus. This was the win that gave her the edge to get the Swimmer of the Year honor. Since she and Galarza tied at three individual titles the award was given to the swimmer with the highest Hy-Tek point total, Tixier. This was the third consecutive season that Tixier claimed the championship in this swim. She also bested her school and NAIA record by zooming to a :54.35.
“Lisa MacManus actually had the lead in this race at the 50-yard mark, but Christine had enough gas left in the tank to pass her in the final 25 and win by over a second,” said Shepard.
The grand finale for Tixier’s individual accomplishments came on the final night of competition. She was seeded first heading into the 200-butterfly finals, and all eyes were on her as she looked to complete her triple crown of individual titles.
What ensued in the final race was a picture of the absolute domination she had been exhibiting all meet long. She came out and blew everyone away over the final 100 yards and won the race by more than three seconds, which is a huge margin against this level of competition.
Her 2:01.53 in the finals shattered her own school record and put her just off the pace from another NAIA record-breaking time. It was a fitting finale to the outstanding individual accomplishments she notched all week long.
However, she was an unselfish teammate and also contributed to five different relay teams throughout the three days of swimming. She and her teammates combined to gain top 10 finishes in the 200- and 400-medley relays and the 200-,400- and 800-freestyle relays.
She and her teammates broke school records with their marks in all five of those relays. Tixier led-off for most of them and broke the school 50- and 100-freestyle records in the 200- and 400-freestyle relays.
All in all, she swam her heart out and performed with enough strength and success to earn every bit of that Swimmer of the Year award and make Shepard, the team and everyone at Biola so incredibly proud.
"When I started coaching at Biola 10 seasons ago I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that we would have a national swimmer of the year," said Shepard. “God has blessed our program and the hard work that our student-athletes have put into Biola swimming. I am extremely proud of Christine and her accomplishments in and out of the pool. I know that Christine feels she would not have been this successful without her amazing teammates and training partners."
Biola's women's team placed seventh in the country for the second straight season.
Watch a video highlighting swimmer Christine Tixier, created by Biola University's student newspaper, The Chimes.
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