Keenan Lineback stars in two sports

Female Torero of the Year has Olympian’s mentality


Even with holding prominent titles such as “Female Torero of the Year” and San Diego Hall of Champions’ Star of the Month, Senior Keenan Lineback walks out to the pool for an interview with a humility about her.

Whereas some athletes may gain an inflated ego with each career accomplishment, Lineback sits down for the interview with normal jitters and responds with modest answers.

“It’s weird, honestly, to think that this is my last year because I feel like I was just a freshman a week ago,” Lineback said. “I am really blessed to have had the opportunities to compete in both surfing and swimming.”

But perhaps the reason Lineback doesn’t begin boasting is because she is constantly focused on improving and achieving the next big thing. As pointed out by her current coach Mike Keeler, Lineback has the mindset of an Olympian.

“It’s going to be a sad day, but also an exciting day,” Keeler said about Keenan graduating from college. “She’s got some great goals. She’s thinking about Olympic trials after she graduates college and so she’s pretty excited to be continuing on.”

For now though, Lineback is in a state of reflection. Before she came out to California to be both a champion in the pool and on the ocean, Lineback was just a kid growing up in Conway, South Carolina with two passions.

“I started swimming when I was four,” Lineback said. “My mom just put me straight into swim lessons. I have an older brother…once he starting swimming she [my mom] just automatically put me in to it.”

Although Lineback began competing in swimming by the age of five, flaring her interest for the pool, her fervor for surfing didn’t start until her dad bought her first surfboard at the age of eight.

“He just thought, ‘Oh, this looks fun, y’all might be good at it,’” Lineback said.

As Lineback recounts the story, she remembers that her and her brother were “naturally good” at surfing. Whereas some parents might feel uncomfortable letting their young children be in the ocean, Lineback’s parents felt reassured letting her surf at a young age due to her swimming background.

Keeping the love for two sports at the same time hasn’t always been easy for Lineback. In fact, as Lineback got older, she often times had to put one sport on hold as she pursued her goals in the other.

“My junior year of high school, it was my second year on the USA national team for surfing, and I was going to be on the competition team and compete in Ecuador,” Lineback said.

“I had to call the coach and tell him I couldn’t do the team anymore because I was missing weeks at a time training for swimming and junior year is when colleges are looking at you and they’re seeing how you’re doing at meets.”

Lineback’s decision wasn’t a clear-cut one, but after a discussion with her parents, Lineback settled on pursuing swimming in California so that she could receive a scholarship and an education from the University of San Diego. The other perk to Lineback’s decision: she was able to catch those Pacific Ocean waves when she wasn’t swimming or studying.

With only a few more months left at USD, Lineback is maintaining her reputation for being a top competitor in swimming setting records in the 1650 Free, 1000 Free, and 800 Free Relay with her teammates Noonan, Taylor, and Walter.

Lineback is also continuing to surf by competing with the USD Surf Team and going out during her free time. She recently surfed in Bali during a study abroad experience.