Santa Barbara’s Jamie Neushul is officially an Olympian and will take her talents in water polo from Santa Barbara all the way to Tokyo.
“You start to think about all the work you put and all the years that have gone into it and it makes it a little bit overwhelming," Neushul said.
Neushul was born and raised in Santa Barbara. She says all the hard work she’s put in with her family at her side has paid off.
“We were water babies, so we were surfing, we did junior lifeguards, we were all around the water growing up in Santa Barbara and naturally took to water polo," she said.
Neushul trained with her sister, Ryann, in preparation for these Olympic games.
Ryann Neushul said, “We typically trained from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and we trained from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.”
But the Neushul water polo legacy stretches even further down their family tree, with their oldest sister, Kylie, an Olympic gold winner in 2016.
Jamie Neushul said, “Even with Kylie gone, I just still feel her support when I’m playing and I feel like I carry my family wherever I am if I’m playing water polo.”
Both of their parents are water polo success stories at UCSB.
Their father, Peter, is a national champion and their mother, Cathy, is a water polo coach.
Ryann Neushul said, “She coached all of us from the ages of 10 to 18 and then all of us went to Stanford. It’s definitely a family affair.”
Jamie Neushul said, “I think our parents more than anything wanted to prepare us for life and make decisions on our own and be independent and be confident in ourselves and they used sports as the avenue to do that and I used water polo as the avenue to do that.”
With the pandemic, Neushul had to decide her future in the sport.
Jamie Neushul said, “The postponement forced everyone to make the decision about if I’m in this for another year or if it’s time to move on.”
The Stanford alum says gunning for these Olympics was an obvious choice.
Jamie Neushul said, “I’ve been kind of all in and just kept riding that.”
Both Jamie and Ryann competed in Southern California to train for the Olympics over the past few months leading up to the games.
Jamie Neushul said, “It’s really nice when you’re in that grind or doing a really hard swim set or you just feel like you’re getting crushed to look around and seeing family around you. I think our team operates like a family, but nothing compares to that literal sister being next to you grinding through all of that stuff together.”
The grind has led to a new opportunity in Tokyo.
Jamie Neushul said, “Our program is really competitive and our coach puts us in a position where we’re never really comfortable. Rather than getting to go around and say you’re Olympian, whatever, I get to show everyone the work I’ve put in.”
Jamie Neushul is one of 13 water polo athletes that will head to Tokyo.
Neushul is set to compete July 23 taking on Japan.