TOKYO (WKBW) — Born to compete and born to artistically swim, Anita Alvarez's accomplishments in the pool have been aplenty.
"I didn't think at the age of 19 and 23-24, I'd be here," Alvarez said.
A promising career that began with the Town of Tonawanda Aquettes and a dream of one day being an Olympian.
It's why the 24-year-old from Kenmore looks back with pride, knowing she's accomplished that dream not once - but twice.
"There's only two people from our entire country that are going to the Olympics for the U.S. in our sport, so thinking about that, it's really crazy," Alvarez said.
Anita's put in a lot of work with a training schedule that consists of eight hour days, six days a week.
It's physically and mentally draining, and she learned that first-hand during last month's Olympic trials when she lost consciousness in the pool due to exhaustion following her preliminary routine.
"Luckily I made it to the end and did all the choreography," Alvarez said. "I mean, it's amazing the muscle memory [I have], I don't know how I was still doing the last moves."
She was immediately attended to and sat out the rest of the weekend to rest her body.
A sub came in, competed alongside her partner Lindi Schroeder, and helped lock up that Olympic spot.
Weeks later, Anita and Lindi are ready to compete once again.
After placing 9th overall in 2016, they're focused on another good showing.
"We want to feel that sense of pride, like we've improved, we've succeeded," Alvarez said. "I think we often make more individual goals for ourselves rather than just something about a placement or a score."
Because that's what being an athlete is all about; getting better and achieving things little by little.
It's the same advice she has for those who wish to follow in her footsteps.
"If you really put your mind to it, and have the heart and the passion, and the motivation, then yeah, you can do it," Alvarez said.
And speaking of motivation, Anita tells me she has a few more goals after Tokyo.
"No U.S. artistic swimmer has gone to three Olympics before," Alvarez said. "So that's a big motivator (laughs)."
Anita and Lindi will compete in the artistic swim duets set for August 2nd through the 4th.