Isabelle Odgers Returned for Fifth Year Because USC ‘On the Brink of Something Exciting’

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Isabelle Odgers was finally starting to put things together when her four years at USC came to an end.

But because of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA for athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Odgers was able to keep the progress and momentum going for one more year as she pursues a masters degree at USC.

“I always knew that my swimming wasn’t finished and the opportunity for another year was really exciting to me,” Isabelle Odgers told Swimming World. “I finally felt like I was hitting my stride athletically and academically. It was an exciting opportunity to pursue my masters and keep swimming. It is an amazing gift and a positive thing to come out of all the difficult things we faced with COVID-19.

“My goal had always been to swim through 2024 and finish on an Olympic cycle. We have been building something really incredible at USC and I am glad to be part of it.”

Odgers also wasn’t keen on finishing her college career missing a scoring spot at NCAAs by one place, either.

“We have had improved finishes and having the opportunity to give it one more try and see some best times is a special opportunity. I finished 17th by a couple of hundredths last year and it would have been bittersweet to end on that,” she said.

It would be bittersweet for Odgers to be finished as things are going so well. She has performed well in this past cycle, starting at the Olympic trials in 2021 when she reached a semifinal swim in the 200 breaststroke. Odgers has continued to improve in short- and long-course races and has transformed herself into a contender.

“So much of it is training hard and I am incredibly blessed to have a group of girls that pushes the best out of my day in and day out. It is building the confidence and racing in practice. I get the chance to race with Kaitlyn Dobler every day in practice and she is a national champion. We have a really incredible group where we work to have fun and be our best selves. It has been a stepping stone to perform well at the bigger meets,” she said. “I use that to push me toward my goals.”


Isabelle Odgers. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

One of those goals is finishing her career at trials – or perhaps the Olympics.

“Last trials was a rocky ride for me. The 100 breaststroke was my first event and it didn’t go well. I came in early for a swim before the 200 breaststroke. I really wanted to get a night swim. I was able to qualify for semifinals and get in that night swim. To be able to get that was a really big achievement personally. It was a goal I set so long ago. It really sparked something in me and made me want to do it again. Hopefully that will be a goal again,” she said.

Swimming for the Trojans has helped get Odgers in the racing mindset day in and day out.

“The college experience of learning how to swim fast all the time, ready to race. You get to practice that racing, which builds a lot of confidence. You are swimming against these great athletes from the international stage and when you get to the bigger meets, it is something that feels more rehearsed,” she said.

Odgers is constantly rehearsing her own stroke and breaking it down session by session.

“I do a lot of stroke count work to be as efficient as I can. That is something I have really been working on. Efficiency is key for me putting together a good 200,” she said. “I have always had a good feel for my stroke and tweaking my own strokes and keeping count. I am constantly thinking about how many strokes I am taking and understanding where I am. I want to get as much out of every stroke as I can.”

Her final college ride will also include her USC teammates, who have been building a winning culture the past couple of years.

“This team is unified toward the common goal. This year it is not just saying it, it is about feeling it. We all know what we are working toward every day. We are best friends outside the pool, which also builds toward the team’s culture. We have a healthy respect for one another and have fun. That is something special about USC. But we have a much better sense of who we are this year. That is something that will hopefully make us very successful this season,” Odgers said. “We have always been on the brink of something exciting, but we have just had some difficult times at NCAAs. But we have made strides each year to get where we want to be. I am hopeful that all pans out this year.”

For Odgers, she will go in knowing NCAAs will be her final college meet this time around.

“For me, when I have fun with my teammates is when I perform my best. The end of last season was unsure for me because I wasn’t clear about my next steps in my career. This year is more of a concrete finish for me and I want to enjoy every last bit of this ride,” Isabelle Odgers said. “The Olympic legacy that swimming has is really special. It felt right for me to end at the Olympic trials/Olympic cycle. I haven’t quite figured out plans for training, but I always knew I wanted to end on an opportunity like that. That will give me the most closure.”

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