The Story Behind Ava Jih-Schiff’s Journey to Stanford University

Ava and her team mates work to lift one of their fellow synchro athletes in the air during the finale of their performance.

To Ava, attending an upstanding, collegiate university has been nothing but a dream for as long as she can remember. A few months into her senior year, Ava’s turned into reality, following her admittance to Stanford University for their synchronized swimming and academic programs.

In a one on one interview with Ava Jih-Schiff, this scholar student at school, and in the pool, shared details on her inspiring journey to Stanford University.

“I can’t remember a time that Stanford wasn’t in my mind” Ava states.

Synchronized swimming is a unique and often unrecognized sport that requires complete perfection, exquisite tricks, and sharp movements, all while treading water. Ava’s passion for synchro has continued to guide her throughout her life, her dedicated involvement in this olympic sport providing her with the drive and determination to achieve her personal goal of playing a sport at a prestigious university.

The school’s synchronized swimming program is small, creating an extremely selective process for recruitment. Only two to four athletes are accepted a year and Ava succeeded in becoming one of these star- studded athletes.

Ava shared that a huge factor in her success can be credited to her National team, which helped carry her throughout the process.

“I am apart of the national team for my age which was extremely helpful in connecting me to Stanford’s program. Even though I have strong, competitive synchro skills, I wanted to be accepted on an academic level as well and had to take all the challenging classes to get in.”

Ava also explained that being one of the “best” at this unique sport was vitally important throughout the recruitment process. Trainers and coaches tend to notice the girls that stand out at the competitions and seem to be working their very hardest, according to Ava. The countless hours of training and competing, with three hour practices at least five days a week have increased Ava’s dedication and drive to succeed, along with many other motivators.

“I approached everything with open mindset,” shares Ava.

She accepted the challenge of taking a 5.0 academic schedule in high school while training endlessly for synchro, which was not an easy task.

“I believe the sky’s the limit and although many people told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t do what I was doing, I chose to not take no for an answer and stay focused on what I wanted.”

Awaiting the arrival of the famous “pink packet”, (first sign to acceptance as a student athlete at Stanford ) was “anxiety driven” according to Ava.

“Actually getting the call, saying I had been accepted was so surreal to me and I felt numbed with emotion. To actually have such a big dream come true is the best feeling and I will continue to cherish that moment for years to come.”

The feeling of relief that Ava now has is “indescribable”. The bond and connection Ava has already began to develop with fellow synchro athletes at Stanford has her looking forward to the future. Ava plans on studying chemistry as well as attending med school in her future academic years.

“I love the idea of getting to play the sport I love while being challenged by one of the most academically rigorous schools in the game.”

Ava finally shared that although the road to your ultimate goal may be tough, pushing through those difficulties can always lead to a positive outcome.