United States Olympic gold medalist Breeja Larson was born on April 16, 1992 in Mesa, Arizona to parents Kjell and Marni. The breaststroker comes from a large family–Larson has six sisters. She lettered in three sports at Mountain View High School–softball, track and field, and swimming–but didn’t commit seriously to swimming until age 17. Although she became a serious swimmer later than most Olympians, Larson’s talent was apparent immediately; her best high school times were a 1:02.1 in the 100 breast, 23.68 in the 50 free, and a 51.12 in the 100 free. Larson holds Mesa Aquatics Club team records in every breaststroke event, both yards and meters.
After Larson graduated from Mountain View in 2010 she chose to attend Texas A&M to further her swimming career. Her first taste of success on the national level came at the 2011 NCAA Division 1 championships when she was second in both the 100 and 200 breast. Her times in those events–58.51 and 2:06.18–were both Texas A&M school records. As a sophomore on the Aggies swim team, Larson was the 2012 NCAA Division 1 champion in the 100 breast with a time of 57.71. This was a NCAA, US Open, and American record for the breaststroker. She also took third place in the 200 breast with a 2:06.82, also a school record.
2012 was a very good year for Larson. At the US Olympic Trails she won the 100 breast, beating Olympian Rebecca Soni. Larson earned her Olympic gold medal as part of the United States’ 400 medley relay team. She was also sixth in the 100 breast.
Larson showed more improvement during her junior year at Texas A&M. She repeated as champion in the 100 breast at the 2013 NCAA Division 1 championships with a time of 57.43, breaking her own NCAA, US Open, and American record. She was also third in the 200 breast with a very fast time of 2:04.48.
In the summer of 2013, Larson qualified for the FINA World Championships in Barcelona by winning the 100 and 200 breast and finishing second in the 50 breast. In Barcelona, she was 4th in the 50 breast and 5th in the 100 breast.
Originally developed by Christina Wright.