When she saw the city of Boise, Id., it was nothing like the city Emily Mathis had pictured in her mind.
That is a big reason why Mathis will be going to school there.
“I had pictured a bunch of potato farms,” said Mathis Tuesday, the day she signed at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center to swim for Boise State University on what she said is a 70 percent scholarship.
“There’s a lot to do in Boise,” Mathis, an Orcutt Academy senior who is a two-time CIF Southern Section Division 4 100-yard girls breaststroke champion, said.
“And the campus is beautiful. It’s in the ‘Green Belt’ area, a river runs through the campus and there’s a bike trail right next to it.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Broncos “won the Mountain West Conference championship,” this past season, Mathis said.
Mathis repeated as the Division 4 100 breaststroke champ when she won in 1 minute, 5.51 seconds May 16 at Riverside City College in the Division 4 final. Mathis helped lead the Spartans to a second consecutive second-place team finish behind Cerritos.
Besides her breaststroke win, Mathis finished second in the 200 individual medley (2:08.23) and swam a leg for the 400 freestyle relay squad that finished second and the 200 medley relay team that finished third.
Besides Boise State, San Diego State, her sister Meghan Zimmer’s alma mater, also courted Mathis.
“I went on a recruiting trip to San Diego State last February,” said Mathis. “I visited Boise State a couple of months ago.
“San Diego State only made me a small offer. I was a little disappointed. (Meghan) said she’d root for me anyway,” though Mathis will be a Bronco, not an Aztec.
Zimmer was a high school All-American in the 100 backstroke when she swam for Pioneer Valley High School. Zimmer and Mathis, along with their brother, Jared Zimmer, have all trained with the Santa Maria Swim Club.
Jared Zimmer graduated from Santa Maria High School.
“Emily’s been training (with the SMSC) since she was four years old,” said SMSC coach Mike Ashmore.
Mathis won her second straight divisional 100 breaststroke title with a big second half. “I think I was fourth at the flip turn,” after the first half, Mathis said recently after she had successfully defended her championship.
“We train our kids to swim strong second halves, to be big finishers,” said Ashmore.
Mathis said the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke, along with the 200 and 400 individual medley races, will be her main events at Boise State.
“I’ll probably do some freestyle, too,” she said.
Ashmore said, “Longer distances are really her biggest strength, and they recruited her mainly for the 200 (breaststroke).
“She’s pretty much all arms and legs in the 100. That should change as she gets more maturity.”
Orcutt Academy swimming coach Deanna Ayers said, “With her combination of talent and work ethic, along with being stellar academically, Emily should have no trouble fitting into swimming at the collegiate level.”
Mathis is a member of the National Honor Society. “My grade point average is 3.83,” she said. She said she will go into Boise State with an interest in the sports therapy field.
Her mother, Cheryl Poirer, expressed no reservations Tuesday about her daughter going away to school so far from home.
“I’m happy for her,” Poirer said. “She’s earned it.
“I’ll be able to go somewhere again to watch one of my daughters swim. I’ll just have farther to go this time.”