Berkley Livingston Portrait

Nebraska swimmer and sophomore Berkeley Livingston poses for a portrait at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Natatorium on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

When it comes time for college, many students end up moving far away from their hometown to start a new chapter in their life.

Lincoln native Berkeley Livingston considered that option, but having seen the facilities and success of the Nebraska swim and dive team, Livingston is still flourishing in her hometown. 

Livingston started taking swim lessons when she was 6 years old, not because she wanted to, but because her parents wanted her to overcome her fear of swimming. The lessons introduced a new interest in Livingston’s life, and she soon discovered her talent.

“I kept with swimming mainly because I was just good at it,” Livingston said. 

Livingston decided to not swim her freshman year at Lincoln Southwest High School because of an Olympic trial cut that caught her eye. After falling short of the cut, the experience inspired her to swim for her high school team.

In her high school career, Livingston was a three-time state champion. She was also named the 2019 Lincoln Journal Star Swimmer of the Year and the Swimmer of the Meet at the 2019 Nebraska School Activities Association Swimming & Diving Championships. Livingston is also the Midwestern Under-18 Age Group Record Holder in the 50-yard butterfly, 200-yard butterfly and 400-yard IM for Lincoln Select swimming. 

Livingston has had an impressive swimming career so far, and she gives a lot of credit for that success to her club and high school coaches. She credits Louie and Norma Balogh of Lincoln Select swimming and her high school coach Leigh Ann Fetter-Witt for pushing her to be her best.

Despite Livingston’s success, one race at the state meet during her senior year got the best of her. She was disqualified in the 200-yard IM and began to feel down on herself.  

“I was so mad and frustrated about it. Leigh Ann came up to me and told me to put all of my emotions into my next race because that’s all that I could do,” she said. “That next race was the 500-yard freestyle, how I finished that race was the closest anyone had come to beating that record in a lot of years.”

The combination of Livingston’s successful high school swimming career and the fact that Nebraska head coach Pablo Morales’ two kids also went to Lincoln Southwest made recruiting rather easy. 

“I certainly was able to see her development throughout high school, firsthand,” Morales said. “That was one of the biggest reasons we wanted to have her so bad.”

Livingston picked Nebraska over Arkansas and Minnesota, which wasn’t an easy decision for her to make. However, after seeing the facilities and the excellent team dynamics, she knew the opportunity to swim at Nebraska was something she couldn’t pass up.

Livingston is seeing firsthand the differences between high school and collegiate swimming.

“The meets are way more fun,” she said. “At least for me, swimming in high school was to get to this stage, and now I just want to swim fast for my teammates and my coaches because it is more of a team atmosphere.”

In addition to the meets, the training changed the way she physically and mentally connects, according to Livingston.

“My training is now more focused on strokes and events that I swim,” she said. “Just in the short time that I have been here already, I have seen a huge difference in my times even with the smallest changes. Mentally, my attitude with swimming has changed.”

In her days as a Husker so far, Livingston has already been swimming with some of the best Nebraska has ever had, and she hopes to be like those swimmers one day. 

“The upperclassmen don't put the pressure on me,” she said. “I put it on myself to mirror what those swimmers have done for the team.”

Livingston has a lot more races to go in her Husker career, but she has impressed the coaches with what she has done so far.

“With the program we have in place and the development she has shown us,” Morales said, “we knew we needed her and [that] her best swimming was ahead of her.”

sports@dailynebraskan.com