Rebecca Millard isn’t the same swimmer she was a year ago.
At the beginning of her freshman season, she lacked self-confidence. By season’s end, she earned All-American honors.
“A turning point was [the NCAA championships] where I went from being afraid to lose to wanting to win,” Millard said.
She attributes that transformation to the help of Gretchen Jaques, a senior on last year’s team.
“Coming into college, I was afraid to anchor a relay,” Millard said. “[Jaques] told me one time, ‘There’s no one I’d rather have anchor a relay than you.’ That moment was a huge turning point for me.”
Her production has continued this season. Last weekend against A&M, she won every sprint freestyle event she entered and anchored the 400-yard relay team to a win.
Junior Brynne Wong, one of Millard’s relay teammates, said she sees Millard’s growth. The two have been friends since attending separate high schools in California.
“She’s so much more confident in herself,” Wong said. “She came in and right off the bat just jumped in and didn’t miss a step there … It’s awesome to see growth like that.”
Millard attributes much of her growth to work outside practice. She didn’t start swimming until junior year of high school, so she said “playing catch-up” is necessary. She sets aside time after practices to work with assistant coach Roric Fink on her starts and turns. She also comes to practice early to watch film with Fink.
“I like her tenacity, I like her attitude and I just like how much she wants to get better,” Fink said. “She did a great job last year for us, and some athletes might sit back and be satisfied with that, but she’s always looking at ‘How do I beat the next person that’s up above me?’ which is really cool.”
Millard and the No. 6 Longhorns face their next challenge this weekend with a dual meet on the road. The No. 1 men will join them against No. 2 North Carolina on Saturday and No. 7 North Carolina State on Sunday.