For most of the population, five seconds is a small and irrelevant amount of time. For Danielle Carter, 5.24 seconds were all that separated her from the Australian Olympian who took first place in the women’s 100-meter backstroke at the 2018 FINA Swimming World Cup in October.
The Los Altos High senior, who placed 13th in the race, should have several more opportunities to swim against elite-level competition – she’s headed to UC Berkeley next year. Carter verbally committed to Cal in September and officially signed her National Letter of Intent Nov. 14 at a signing ceremony on campus.
As a four-time finalist at the state high school championships, Carter has played an instrumental role in Los Altos’ success in the pool. However, she attributes much of her own success to her teammates.
“My teammates inspire me because they all work so hard and always push me to be my best,” said Carter, who also swims for Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics.
Outside of high school, Carter said her favorite meet of her athletic career so far was the 2017 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
“The energy that was produced by the crowd combined with the loud music and flashing lights was a feeling that I will never forget,” Carter said.
For Carter, the most rewarding part of swimming is having the opportunity to race against the fastest women on the planet and attending everyday training with her friends, who always push her to the best of her ability.
Carter has been swimming since age 6, but only began seriously considering swimming in college during her sophomore year. Colleges began recruiting her last year; Carter said the University of Tennessee, the University of Arizona, USC and UCLA also showed interest.
Carter described the recruitment process as tough but enjoyable.
“At the beginning of my recruiting process, it was a little stressful getting used to how to talk to coaches and (to know) how often I should be emailing these coaches,” she said. “But once I got into the swing of things, it was a fun process (to get) to know new coaches and to see how other teams train.”
Carter said she ultimately decided on Cal because of its team culture of cooperation and its strong academics.
Carter will join an NCAA Division I women’s swim program led by 27-year head coach Teri McKeever that has a history of producing Olympians. The illustrious list includes Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin.
Carter would like to make that list as well.
“I am hoping to get my Olympic Trials (time) cuts in the 100 back, 200 back and 200 free,” she said.