Name: Tucker Rivera
Sport: Men’s Swimming & Diving
Hometown: Littleton, Colorado
Majors: Political Science and Public Policy Studies
Why did you choose UChicago?
I chose UChicago because it gave me the opportunity to swim at an elite level, while still getting the education I knew would set me up for success in my adult life. UChicago truly was my dream school, from the time I was about 14 or 15 years old – so when I got in, I called my Mama, and then I called Jason to let him know I was (finally) committing.
Favorite moment of your UChicago athletic career?
I got a random hunch in the 2019-20 campaign to wear a tech suit for a dual meet, and went a lifetime best out of nowhere. We literally had had our max-lift day that morning (s/o Jim), but I still had probably the best meet of my college career. To see how excited everyone was for me, made me really, really happy.
Favorite team tradition/activity?
Eating at Baker after practice with the team. Online classes have been alright to deal with. But not being able to sit down with my teammates after practice this season has made me realize how much I’ve appreciated it in years past.
What made you fall in love with your sport originally?
I’m not sure if there was a singular moment – I’ve just always loved the water. It makes me a much calmer person.
What lessons have you learned through competing in your sport that have stuck with you?
Through competition, comparing my high school and college experiences, I’ve learned that improvement feels a hell of a lot better than being the “best” from an individual standpoint.
What advice would you give to your first-year teammates?
MAKE A SLEEP SCHEDULE, GIVE YOURSELF A BED TIME, and have fun 🙂 (and go to bed on time).
Favorite UChicago class that you learned the most from and why?
The American Presidency, taught by Professor Howell. Maybe I’m biased, because I performed better in that course than in pretty much any other course I’ve taken at UChicago. It taught me a lot about the identification of a leader – the motivations and the theoretical history behind presidential (and not-so-presidential) behavior. I’m writing my BA thesis on International Relations, but I’m an American Politics/History nerd so I really loved this class. Honorable Mention: Politics and Policy, with Professor Berry.
Which UChicago faculty or staff member made the greatest impact on you and why?
I could write about every single coach I’ve had here. Jason, Nicole, Mark, Beck, Alex and Rob. I really could. But alas, I refuse to pick a favorite or most influential coach. I would say that our Athletic Trainer, Mary Wisniewski, has gotten me through some really tough physical injuries and emotional stresses. If it weren’t for Mary, I might have retired from the sport after my freshman year – and I am eternally grateful that I did not retire at that point in time.
Favorite place on campus?
Social Science Research Building, Main Lecture Hall on the first floor. It’s got chandeliers and stuff. I can’t describe it well enough to do it justice, it’s just awesome.
Favorite thing to do in the city?
Going to Chinatown to eat an absurd amount of food with my teammates/friends.
What are your post-graduation plans?
In addition to being a student-athlete here at UChicago, I’m a musician. I am currently applying to graduate schools and jobs in Los Angeles, California, in the hope that maybe I’m lucky enough to make it in the music industry while I’m there. Only time will tell if that works out for me, but regardless, I’ll have to go to school or get a job to make sure I can pay off my student loans. Having two degrees from the University of Chicago is pretty much the best “backup plan” on Earth.
Favorite Chicago restaurant?
Salonica, definitely Salonica.
Favorite place you’ve visited?
Blue Strawberry by the Sea (s/o seniors).