Southern California is known for breeding outstanding swimmers. That's why it has the toughest competition. When you're swimming among and against a lot of Olympic caliber athletes, it's really hard to shine. Sure, you might be the fastest girl on your team, but in the grand scheme of things, you might not even be in the top 10% in Southern California. While you may not be in the top 10% in SoCal, if you just drive 6 hours north, you might be in the top 2% of the entire region. Like I said, Southern California has the toughest competition.
The last two swim meets I swam in, I had the chance to compete with some prodigies that went to the Olympic Trials this year who ranged from ages 14-16. That means that they're about the same age as me! As you can probably imagine, it was extremely intimidating swimming against these girls. But at the same time it was an amazing experience, and it pushed me to go faster than ever before. I thought to myself, "If these girls can make it to the Olympic Trials, why can't I?"
It's crazy to think that people my age are actually making it to the Olympic Trials and competed with major celebrities in the swimming world like Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, etc. Even if they didn't make it to the Olympics, they're still super young, and have a bright future ahead of them, the possibility of them making it to the Olympics in 4 years is something attainable. I'm glad that I live in Southern California, because it gives me the chance to swim with a huge pool of astonishing talent, an experience that I would be able to get in very few places around the world.