Student Athlete of the Week: Long Beach Swimmer Gwendolyn Lee

Long Beach swimmer Gwendolyn Lee has lived in five different states and two countries. The one constant in her life has been her love for the water, a fitting passion to have when your father is in the Navy.

For a Navy family, water is a way of life and Bearcat swimmer Gwendolyn Lee dove head first. Ever since her first swimming lesson at just eight months old, Lee barely dries off before jumping back into whatever body of water is closest.  “I always really loved the water and swimming when I was little. My parents would tell me whenever they would take me to the pool– even when I was just a baby– I would walk straight to the deep end. They would have to pick me up.”

Besides her innate draw to the water, Lee had another motive, one a little closer to home for becoming a skilled swimmer. “The water has kind of been a sensitive subject for my family, I guess. My sister nearly drowned when she was little. So, I think that was part of my motivator, you know, I’m going to know how to be in the water and get through it.”

With her family constantly on the move, Lee found being a part of swim teams has helped make transition at new schools a little smoother. “Swim is pretty great, especially now that I’m a decent swimmer. So, it’s something I can establish when I get there. Like, I’m a swimmer. I’m athletic. I can go on the swim team and it’s a place where we can all share an interest and it’s an easy way to make friends.”

Water has also served as a sanctuary for Lee, who was diagnosed with level 1 autism last year. The 15-year-old says swimming helps ease the sensory issues she faces due to autism. “Being in the water, just the feeling around my skin and also just the void of too much sensory input from noise, I think I really love that.”

Lee hopes to attend a military academy and be a part of a collegiate swim team. West Point has already shown interest in the sophomore.

To nominate someone you believe deserves to be featured as News 25’s Student Athlete of the Week, please reach out to Grace Boyles through email (, Facebook (@GraceBBoyles), and Twitter (@GraceBBoyles).

Nominees can participate in any sport and be any age. Make sure to tune in every Wednesday to see which local athlete we spotlight next.

Categories: Student Athlete of the Week