Meet Signe Larson

Feb. 1, 2010

Senior Anna `Signe' Larson is in her final season for the Oregon State women's swim team. Signe currently has the third fastest 100 yard breaststroke all- time for the Beavers, as well as a top-10 time in the 200 yard breaststroke. She says she has a hidden talent of playing the piano, and her most exciting memory was competing at the NCAA swimming tournament while still competing for LSU.

Why do you prefer to be called `Signe', when your first name is Anna?

'My middle name is Signe, which is what I go by but I'm enrolled for classes as my legal name, which is Anna Larson. My mom and dad started calling me Signe when I was born, they never really went with Anna and it just stuck with me. They thought that Signe might be a little bit weird I guess, so they decided to name me Anna and call me Signe, and then let me decide what I want to be called. But what's to decide? It's a little too late now.'

When did you start swimming?

'I took lessons when I was very, very young, like three, and started racing when I was five years old. I joined the Multnomah Athletic Club and swam there for twelve years. Then I switched to a club out in Hillsboro (Ore.), and swam there for my last two years before I left for college.'

Why did you start competing at the Multnomah Athletic Club? Was someone else in your family doing it?

'I have three older sisters and my parents put us all into swim lessons so that we would know how to swim. One of my older sisters kept with it and I kept with it, but my other two sisters didn't keep doing it. I just really liked being in the water.'

Did the fact that your sister stuck with swimming helped you keep with it?

'My sister swam for the University of Michigan, and swam all four years there. So I would say that was pretty inspirational, and it's also really hard to quit something once you've gone so far with it.'

Why did you go to LSU as a freshman and sophomore?

'When I started looking at schools, I didn't want to stay in Oregon. I guess I was just being adventurous, wanting to get out of Oregon and try something new. I looked at the schools that I had the most communication with, and one of my old teammates was a graduate assistant at LSU. He was recruiting me pretty hard, and on my last visit to LSU, I liked it a lot, and I decided to sign there.'

So why did you leave LSU after only two years?

'The coaching staff didn't really work out there for me. It wasn't really what I had expected from seeing the surface of it before. I wasn't getting the training that I needed there to become faster in the breaststroke. I was training for freestyle, and I swim breaststroke. I'm not sure why. I went in and talked to the head coach a hand full of times when I was there, asking him to change my training and every time I came out pumped up and excited, and then nothing ever changed. It was a really intense environment, and I've always swam for really laid back coaches. I'm not really into the yelling and screaming. I work best with someone who's calm, someone I can have a conversation with. I think that's why I left.'

Do you ever regret leaving LSU?

'I miss the school and the people, but I don't miss the swimming at all. He has a great team there now. They're actually really fast, he has many fast breaststroke swimmers, they're doing very well, but I wasn't happy and I don't regret leaving.'

You've lived in many different places, with different cultures, (Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.), which place did you like the most? Why?

'I think the experience of moving somewhere that was completely different than I was used to, it was really good for me. It really helped me realize how much I liked being around my friends and family. It put me in an uncomfortable position where I had to start over, I was an outsider. Things are way different culturally in Louisiana. But it was such an awesome experience. I'm still best friends with my old roommate, and I try and go back and visit once or twice a year. It made me realize that I want to live up here in Oregon.'

Why did you choose to come to OSU after you left LSU?

'Well, I initially quit swimming when I left LSU. I moved back up here and started working and went to school for the next nine months. I didn't think I was ever going to swim again; I was over it after my experience at LSU. I wasn't missing it at all, and I was ready to move on. But I grew up with a few of the girls who swim here on the team right now, and I continued to hang out with them once I got here. They would always try and talk me into swimming again, but I wasn't really interested. I eventually got a phone call or an email or something from Larry (Liebowitz), the head coach, and he said he wanted to have a conversation with me. Eventually, I decided that I felt more comfortable with him, and I wanted to try it again.'

Why did you switch to NMC (New Media Communications) when you transferred to Oregon State?

'At the time I transferred, I was majoring in fish and wildlife, so I felt like OSU was a good school to come to. But the fish and wildlife program is so much bigger here at OSU, and I also realized that with the economy the way it is right now, it might be difficult to find a good job in fishing and wildlife industry. So I realized that if I didn't want to travel around a lot, if I wanted to stay close to home at all, I would probably have to do something else, and new media communications is probably my second greatest interest; I really like the video editing part of it a lot.

What do you want to do when you leave OSU?

'Oh boy... (Laughing)... Well I've got one more year of school left, so I have some time to decide. I think I'd like to do an internship somewhere, perhaps Nike, but we'll see. I'm really not sure yet.'

I read that your favorite athlete was Alex Rodriguez, is that still true?

'They asked me that question quite awhile ago. He is not my favorite athlete. I think he probably was when he played for the Mariners, and I was in fifth grade. But they asked me that question, and I just needed an answer. I've always liked the New Orleans Saints, so probably either Reggie Bush or Drew Brees. I am absolutely rooting for them in the Super Bowl. They probably don't deserve to go after NFC Championship game, but I am so excited that they're going.'

Where is your favorite place to go in Corvallis?

'Well, I used to work at a restaurant called Aqua. It's a great place to eat, a really fun environment, and I still like to go there once and awhile. It's on First and Monroe, in the water street market building. It's always a good place to relax, with good food and good environment.'

When are you planning on graduating?

'Next March, at the end of Winter term. March 2011 is when I'm aiming for.'

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