University City Student Athletes Compete on the International Stage

Junior+Lia+Sowers+%28right%29+poses+alongside+another+teammate+at+the+Olympic+Hopes+Regatta+in+Slovakia.

Svetlana Sowers

Junior Lia Sowers (right) poses alongside another teammate at the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Slovakia.

Sevilla Tovar, Contributing Writer

This article originally appeared in University City High School’s The Commander in September 2022. It has been lightly edited for republication.

Over this past year, two University City High School students with exceptional athleticism have gone to represent their countries at international sports competitions.

During the summer of 2022, UCHS senior Kathryn Hazle went to the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii to swim for Team Canada, as she is a Canadian citizen. When she went to the Canadian nationals this past April, she qualified as one of the top two athletes under 18 for the event, and was selected for the 400-meter individual medley.

 Junior Lia Sowers attended the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Bratislava, Slovakia in early September to kayak for Team USA. She said, “The events I did were the single person kayak 1000-meter and 500-meter, the double person kayak 1000-meter, and the four-person kayak 500-meter.”

Both students were new to the idea of competing on a global scale. According to San Diego News, Sowers’s trip was her first competition outside of the U.S.

Three girls stand together in red shirts that say CANADA and black shorts in front of a pool.
Senior Kathryn Hazle (middle) with teammates. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Hazle)

“It was my first time competing internationally and I had the best time. It was such an amazing experience getting to race on the international stage and meet all the athletes from other nations,” said Hazle.

“I’ve been swimming for almost eight years but did not actually begin pursuing racing nationally and internationally until around 2019.”

Sowers, on the other hand, had only been kayaking for two years prior. She qualified to be on the USA team after placing third in the single person kayak 1000-meter and 500-meter in a national competition.

At first, Sowers was uncertain about leaving to compete in Europe.

“I was hesitant to go as it’s a lot of money, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Sowers. She added that despite being nervous about the competition, she eventually got the hang of it and ended up making friends from all over the world.

Hazle and Sowers offered their recommendations for others looking to compete in their sports.

“For people starting out in swimming, enjoy it and try not to put pressure on yourself; performance and improvements come when you’re having fun,” said Hazle.

Sowers added that, “(Kayaking) takes a lot of work. Don’t get discouraged. Focus on using proper sprint paddling technique as it’ll get you farther and faster than any amount of muscle can.”