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Sonora swimming star Slater signs with Pepperdine

Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Sonora High School senior Sammie Slater gets an emotional hug from her sister Megan Slater, 13, after signing her letter of intent to Pepperdine University Friday, April 14. By BILL ROZAK The Union Democrat Sonora swim coach Josh Martin sits beside the pool at Sonora Sport and Fitness Center after practice, grabs his phone, opens a file and cycles through Wildcat records Sammie Slater holds. He looks at almost every event, stroke and distance because Slater?s name is everywhere. The Wildcat record book could have Slater listed as author. ?She?s third in the 50 freestyle, first in the 100 free, second in the 200 free, third in the 100 butterfly ? ,? Martin said. The list goes on. Slater holds three Wildcat swim records and is in the top three in five other events. She will graduate this year as the fastest female swimmer in the 100 free, 500 free and 100 backstroke. She also was a record-setting goal scorer for the Sonora water polo team. She?s fast. She?s smart. She?s hard working. She?s charismatic. And that?s why Pepperdine University came calling. Slater signed her National Letter of Intent to swim for Pepperdine, a Division I school in southern California. She plans to spend the next four years, on scholarship, concentrating on swimming and schoolwork, and not worrying about washing clothes or getting lost in thought while gazing at the Pacific from the Malibu campus. ?There are ocean views everywhere, and I gotta admit, not having to do laundry is a big perk,? Slater said. ?It?s breathtakingly beautiful. I feel so lucky.? When Slater was a freshman, Martin met with her and her family to discuss the future Local and Rural Routes and what she needed to do to swim or play water polo at the next level. Slater?s dream school at that time was UCLA. They made a plan for both swimming and water polo, and that plan was to take care of school and basically be better than everybody else through hard work and dedication. Martin knew if Slater put her mind to something, she could achieve anything. ?She?s a natural born leader and pretty much everything you can ask for in an athlete,? Martin said. Fast forward to her senior year and Slater?s own commitment to excellence produced college options for both sports. When Pepperdine showed interest, the scope narrowed and her dream began to re-shape. She went on an unofficial visit to meet the coach (Nick Rodionoff, 18th season) and tour the school and ?immediately felt at home. I got a great vibe from everybody and they were all so helpful,? Slater said. Water crashing onto rocks and sandy beaches may have something to do with good vibes. Slater went back to Malibu on an official visit, talked more with the coach, met other recruits and knew what she wanted. Shortly after making the commitment to Pepperdine, Slater received mail from UC Berkeley and UCLA ? both acceptance letters. ?I applied to the UCs, but had doubts because they?re so hard to get in. I was stunned. It was a bit nostalgic, but it didn?t change anything,? Slater said. ?I never envisioned I?d See SLATER Page 2 175039 052417s

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