With the Olympics set to start on Friday one local water polo athlete from Santa Barbara still blooming in her career is now taking her talents to the highest level.
“it was definitely kind of weird getting back into it, there were some jitters and things since we haven't played in so long, but it was really fun. It's what we've been looking forward to for so long so it was really nice to be back,” said Paige Hauschild.
Hauschild, a Santa Barbara native and graduate of San Marcos High School, is heading to Tokyo.
“We as athletes and as a team are super dedicated to what we do, and even when we were apart and when things were up in the air as far as the Olympics go and as far as competing in the sport, we all still had that dream and goal of going to Tokyo," Hauschild said.
The 21-year-old is one of the younger athletes headed to the Olympics.
"I've definitely been talking to the girls who have been there before and trying to get some advice, trying to put myself in that headspace before going into the Olympics, and trying to learn as much as I can and know what to expect."
Hauschild will be representing USC while competing for Team USA.
"It's a little nerve-wracking but I think now that we're playing games again, it's just all coming back. It's more exciting and it's feeling real and so I think we're all itching for Tokyo games to roll around," she said.
Battling through the pandemic was not easy for Hauschild and her teammates.
"It's been a rollercoaster and I think everyone has had their issues obviously, but our team has been super resilient, we've been through a lot, we've been super diligent with our protocols," she said.
Hauschild’s training in Santa Barbara helped her stay on top of her game.
“When we were apart, it was really hard, especially playing a water sport, a lot of us didn't have access to pools when we were isolated at home. Before we came back, when we were in our separate homes or wherever we were, we just did whatever we could to stay in shape, most of us on land," she said.
Now Hauschild will have a chance to compete for the gold, something that didn't seem possible a year ago.
“Our ability to keep our eyes focused on our end goal made things a little bit easier trying to get through the pandemic and having each other through it just to reach out and talk to made it a lot easier," Hauschild said.
The three-time 1st team division ALL-CIF athlete is now presented with the opportunity to make her hometown proud once more.
“Just to get to the Olympics and hopefully have some success there will be a dream come true," she said.
Hauschild and Team USA will open the Olympics up on July 23 taking on Japan.
The Olympics will air on KSBY.