Benton City's Tixier wins 3 national swimming titles

March 24, 2014 

Christine Tixier wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after high school.

While she swam for Hanford High School, the Benton City resident was home schooled, and she graduated in 2011.

“It was a 50-50 chance that I’d go to college,” Tixier said. “I had gone to (Columbia Basin College) in the Running Start program, and I already had my AA. But I really didn’t know if I wanted to go on.

“I didn’t think about college a lot while I was in high school,” she said. “I applied to Biola University and a few others, but I wasn’t excited about going to college. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to.”

It wasn’t until later that summer that Biola sent her a notice that if she didn’t get her money in, she wouldn’t be able to go to the Southern California school.

So, under deadline pressure, she decided to go there.

“I’m so glad I ended up here,” she said last week.

So is Biola, as Tixier — representing the Eagles at the NAIA swimming championships in Oklahoma City on March 6-8 — won three NAIA titles and was named NAIA women’s swimmer of the year.

“When I started coaching at Biola 10 seasons ago I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that we would have a national swimmer of the year,” said Biola coach Eddie Shepard.

Here’s how it went down in Oklahoma City:

On Thursday, March 6, Tixier won the 200-yard Individual Medley in a time of 2 minutes, 4.48 seconds.

“I wasn’t expecting to win three events,” said Tixier. “I think I was seeded sixth in the IM on Thursday. So after that one, I was kind of expecting to win the 100 and I wanted to win the last one.”

“The 200-IM was the weakest of the three events she was slated to swim at this meet,” said Shepard. “She has been working so hard on it all year, so I was especially excited when she won the national title.”

The next night, Tixier swam to an NAIA-record time of 54.35 seconds to win the 100-yard butterfly. She has won the NAIA title in that event all three seasons at Biola.

“We had such a strong day of swimming today that was topped off by Christine winning the 100-butterfly for the third straight year,” said Shepard. “Lisa MacManus of Oklahoma Baptist actually had the lead at the 50-yard mark, but Christine had enough gas left in the tank to pass her in the final 25 and win by more than a second.”

On March 8, the final evening, Tixier completed her standout weekend by winning the 200-yard Butterfly in 2:01.53. She missed another NAIA record by two-tenths of a second.

That makes the junior a five-time NAIA champion.

But this season was special.

“I think I’m a lot stronger this season,” Tixier said. “My training has been a little different. I’ve done more dry-land stuff, like weights. I’ve focused on weights more, about three mornings a week. The season is so long you get lost in training.”

For an encore next season, Tixier would like to repeat in all three events.

“I’ll probably do the same events next year,” she said. “The 200 butterfly, I was close to an NAIA record. I watched the film and I saw some mistakes. It’s such a different race. It’s kind of fun, but it’s one though that you have to power to the end.”

And somewhere along the line, from her senior year of high school right up to now, she has found that spark with school.

A Human Biology major, Tixier earned academic honors for the second consecutive year, getting Daktronics-NAIA scholar-athlete recognition. Last year, she became a Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American.

Suddenly, school is fun for her.

“At Biola, we all major or minor in bible studies,” Tixier said. “The best thing is the swim team is basically all of my friends.”

Two other Mid-Columbians shine at NAIAs

Tixier wasn’t the only Mid-Columbia athlete who shined this month.

A couple others did well at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Kennewick High graduate Kaytlyn Coleman, now at Lewis-Clark State College, finished second in women’s weight throw, with a mark of 59 feet, 23⁄4 inches.

Columbia (Burbank) product Harley McBride, with Eastern Oregon University, placed third in the women’s high jump at 5-foot-71⁄4 inches.

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