(W-178), Olympic Bronze Medalist
“ When I went to SEA, I had never been on a boat or really ever been to the East Coast. I wanted to take myself out of my element and challenge myself to succeed in new arenas. SEA taught me that in order to succeed you not only need dedication to hard work, but most importantly, you need to trust the people in the world around you to teach you how to succeed. By believing in the people around you, you can achieve far more than you can by yourself. "
Heather Petri (W-178), Olympic Bronze Medalist
Heather Petri represented the United States this summer at the Olympic Games in Athens , Greece as a member of the Women’s Water Polo Team. Heather and her teammates earned a bronze medal in their final game against Australia (winning 6-5). Siobhan Sheerar caught up with Heather via e-mail as she begins her professional water polo career in Florence , Italy .
How were you selected for the US Women’s water polo team?
I was actually selected to the national team in a different way than most of my teammates. I started playing water polo a little later than girls do now. When I was in high school there was not a girl’s water polo team so in order to play I had to play with the boy’s team. I helped to start a girl’s team the next year when I was 17. Then I went on to play at the University of California at Berkeley . It was in college that the National team coach asked me to come and practice with them. Usually athletes try out for youth and junior national teams as they grow up and through that exposure get asked to the national team. I skipped that step and began training with the national team in January 2000, and eight months later I made the 2000 Olympic team. Since then, I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and trained full-time for the 2004 Olympics.
What was your most memorable moment of the Olympics?
It was the opening ceremonies. I remember walking out of the tunnel into the Olympic stadium with the other United States athletes. It is an unreal feeling when you hear your nation’s name called out and at the same time physically feel the buzz of athletic excitement, the cheers from the crowd and the warmth of the lights. I like to compare it to the way it feels standing next to a speaker when really loud music is on. I still get chills just thinking about it.
What brought you to SEA?
I wanted to find a unique way to learn about biology and the ocean and finish up my degree at the University of California at Berkeley.
What was the one lesson you learned from your SEA experience?
When I went to SEA, I had never been on a boat or really ever been to the East Coast. I wanted to take myself out of my element and challenge myself to succeed in new arenas. SEA taught me that in order to succeed you not only need dedication to hard work, but most importantly, you need to trust the people in the world around you to teach you how to succeed. By believing in the people around you, you can achieve far more than you can by yourself.
What was your most memorable SEA moment?
There were so many. Hanging on the bowsprit with my watch and mate, Tim Frush, while the boat was bounding through the ocean! Or seeing dolphins racing the boat… climbing the mast on New Year’s Day. How do you choose?
Do you think swim calls aboard the Westward prepared you for the Olympics?
Of course!! My shipmates helped me work out by hanging on me when they needed a rest!
What are your plans for this year? Will we see you in the 2008 Summer Olympics?
This year I am playing for a professional team in Florence , Italy . I am not sure where the next few years will take me. I know that I love water polo and enjoy playing, so maybe you will see me in 2008!