This is the fifth part of six-part feature series on Stanford women’s sports. This piece seeks mainly to give a first-person account of junior swimmer Andie Taylor’s life outside of the pool. Renee and Andie were roommates freshman year.
When Andie opens the door of her suite, I can tell she is excited about something. She welcomes me in, offers me Easter candy, then blurts out the question she has been waiting to ask: “Are you friends with Julia Landauer?”
Julia is a good friend of mine, a racecar driver who recently competed on CBS’s “Survivor.” I tell Andie that we are friends and she shrieks with excitement, bounding up to retrieve a copy of The Daily that she has cached away in her room. She looks at me mischievously and points to the following quote in a recent article on Landauer: “There was someone who was on the ladies’ swim team who came up to me in Ricker Dining Hall and asked for a picture. And she totally made my night.”
“See,” Andie says, “I’m famous.”
It turns out she was that someone on the ladies’ swim team.
Andie Taylor’s enthusiasm isn’t limited to “Survivor.” She loves chocolate milk, obscure candies and decorating the common room of her suite with live houseplants. In fact, when she’s done swimming at Stanford, she plans to go on an all-candy diet for as long as she can and supplement it with vitamins so she survives.
The sound of leaf blowers reminds her of the suburban summers of her childhood. She loves the “Today” show and sneaks into her eating club at Suites to watch it some mornings. When she grows up, she wants to have an even number of kids so no one gets left out for pickup basketball or Disneyland rides.
Andie and I were freshman roommates in Donner and have stayed close since. She is a junior majoring in HumBio with a concentration on disease causation and children’s health. She generally swims middle distance freestyle, the individual medley and butterfly. She hails from Sammamish, Wash., a suburb outside of Seattle.
Andie first tried out swimming at age nine, and began swimming year-round when she was 11. She played many sports growing up with an older brother, and says that she stayed on her little league baseball team long after all the other girls had switched to softball. She played basketball until high school, when she had to choose between basketball and swimming, a fact few people know about her.
Asked about her early swimming memories, she says, “Erin McClean. I will always remember that name.”
McClean beat 9-year-old Andie in her first-ever summer championship meet due to a disqualification. She also reminisces fondly about a junior national team trip to Maui in 2007, when she met and roomed with her current teammate Felicia Lee. The two lived together in Mirrielees last year and remain best friends.
When I ask her what challenges she faces with swimming, she responds, “Getting up early, the amount practice interferes with classes you want to take, but it’s mostly staying focused for that long.”
Meeting Andie, you would never guess that she is walking around perpetually exhausted, even with a practice schedule of nine practices per week plus dryland and weightlifting outside of that. The girl exudes energy. I remember being so impressed our freshman year that she could be cheery and curious about my day when she returned at night after a long day bookended by 6 a.m. practice and 8 p.m. chemistry tutoring.
When I ask her what her favorite part of swimming is, she doesn’t skip a beat, “The community. We spend so much time together and those are the people who go through the same things as you.” It’s clear in the tone of her voice how much she loves her teammates. This love propelled the team to a Pac-12 title this February under new head coach Greg Meehan.
She comments that coming to college was “pretty weird because it was the first time men’s and women’s teams were completely separate.” Their separate training schedules have done little to separate the teams socially however, and on any given day at any meal, you will find both teams eating together at the picnic tables outside of Suites. When I ask her if she ever notices her gender in athletics, or thinks about what it means to be a female athlete, she looks back confused and then responds, “Nope?”
Regarding her favorite part of Stanford, Andie says, “Besides the weather and beautiful campus, I would say the interesting people that you run into and all the stories you hear about what people have done. It kind of inspires you to do something that cool too.” This makes me chuckle because Andie is high up on my list of “interesting people” yet she seems to consider herself quite average.
Besides swimming competitively at a top-ranked school, Andie has plans for medical school at some point in the future. For the number of commitments tugging at her attention, Andie is remarkably calm and collected. I ask her what stresses her out most, and surprisingly she doesn’t respond with complaints about time management or med school but says instead, “Sometimes I think about all the things going on at Stanford that I don’t even know about, let alone attend, like plays and talks and stuff—that stresses me out.”
One of the first nights of our freshman year Andie woke me just as I was drifting off. “Renée!” she exclaimed. “Let’s play rose, bud, thorn.” She seemed to assume that everyone knew what this game was, and maybe they do, but I didn’t. She explained.
From that night on, we played most nights, telling each other one good thing that had happened to us that day (rose), one bad thing (thorn), and one thing we were looking forward to (bud). The kind of optimism this game exhibits is characteristic of Andie. She works herself hard and has no less than three balls in the air at any given time, but she is always hopeful for what she has slated for tomorrow.
She strikes a balance between tough-as-nails ambition and childlike wonder. She is notably modest, and if there seems to be a dearth of stats in this article it is because Andie doesn’t like tooting her own horn. She is one of the few people I know who challenges herself to be a better person every day, whether by going to church, doing a kind deed or just changing her attitude.
It’s a joy to share her excitement about “Survivor” or Ann Curry, and if you spend enough time with her you begin to make plans for future candy diets as well. When I get up to leave, I hug Andie goodbye, take some Easter candy for the road and promise to plan a play date for her with Julia.
Contact Renee Donovan at rdonovan ‘at’ stanford.edu.
Previous installments in The Stanford Daily’s women’s sports feature series: