Starting at a young age, Tori Beeler from Parkville, Missouri, hinted at her bright future and competitive side while swimming in a pool at Disney World with her 9-year-old brother. Her dad demonstrated how to do a flip turn, and she jumped in and succeeded on the first try, proving not just to her dad, but also to herself that she could be a good swimmer.
Beeler wasn’t always a swimmer, as she began her athletic career as a promising gymnast. However, after suffering wrist and ankle injuries that never fully healed, she was forced to quit gymnastics. Beeler’s parents offered her a choice: she could either dive or swim. Both would allow her to use the skills of gymnastics while maintaining a low risk of re-injury to her ankle and wrist.
Now, as a swimmer for the Nebraska swimming and diving team, Beeler credits her success to her time as a gymnast. However, there’s one key difference.
“In swimming, you have to be relaxed and feeling every stroke, but with gymnastics, all of your muscles are tensed up the whole time,” Beeler said. “So, that was definitely a huge change between the sports for me.”
Even though there are differences between the sports, Beeler still was able to adjust and find something that she was good at again. One of her most cherished memories — winning her first sectional with a time cut — showed Beeler that she could be good at swimming because not everyone can achieve that performance.
That didn’t stop Beeler from achieving what she really wanted to.
“I know that I can always be getting faster,” Beeler said. “There was a point I wanted to give up because of the [coaches] not pushing me to be the best I could be. So, I switched teams and coaches, which I saw changes right away because he pushed me to be able to swim at this type of [collegiate] level.”
Along with giving more guidance overall, Beeler’s high school coach set her up for the most important races Beeler had in high school.
“Sophomore year was the first year that I won state in the 200 IM, which was actually against the defending state champ, dropping six seconds on my time,” Beeler said.
Races like her state championship victory caught the eye of collegiate coaches, and before ultimately choosing Nebraska, Beeler received interest from Illinois, Arizona State, South Carolina, Arkansas and New Mexico State.
Beeler had many reasons why she chose Nebraska, but she said the most important one was Nebraska head coach Pablo Morales.
“Other than his obvious accomplishments and impressive background, him also swimming the same strokes as me definitely sealed the deal,” Beeler said.
Morales remembers that the feeling was mutual when he recruited her; he knew the program had gained a talented athlete.
“I remember going out to see her swim, and going, ‘Okay, this girl is going to improve like crazy,’” Morales said.
She had a strong freshman year at Nebraska with five career-best swims and 16 top-five finishes. After improving during her sophomore year, junior year was yet another sign that Beeler wouldn’t settle, as she ended the year with 14 top-five finishes. Beeler also broke a school record in the 200 IM that had stood since 1997, the year that she was born, and had the team’s best finish at the Big Ten Championships in 20th place in the 200 IM.
As Beeler continues to add accomplishments during her senior year, she is showing no signs of slowing down.
“Every team should have a voice on it like hers,” Morales said. “Being able to tell people what they need to hear, even when they don’t want to hear it, is something that she brings to this team that is so special.”