From an early age, it was hard to keep Emily Neubert out of the water. Try if you must, but you would usually fail.

“I knew at the age of seven what I wanted to do,” Neubert said. “I loved it so much that it was clearly the obvious choice for me. From then on, I didn’t want to do anything else.”

The Neubert family made the trek to Waco from Ohio when she was nine, quickly finding swimming shelter 35 miles down I-35 at the Temple Area Swim Club. Neubert switched to a club in Pflugerville her junior year, gaining attention from several area colleges, including Texas A&M.

But after winning four state championships and becoming Midway High School’s valedictorian, she knew that College Station was where she wanted to be.

“I actually went to an A&M swim camp in 2006,” Neubert said. “After a few recruiting visits, coach Bultman said they would reserve a spot for me when I finished high school. And I just couldn’t say no”

Neubert found her first year to be a bit taxing, having really not received any true weight training before enrolling as a freshman. Most of her success in high school came from raw talent, something she says was a shock to her system.

“My entire freshman year I was always sore, always tired,” Neubert said. “I kind of was just in the middle of the pack, not the best but just sort of blending in. I wasn’t able to do one pull-up when I got there, I honestly couldn’t even beat my mom at arm wrestling”

To be able to compete at the level she wanted, Neubert knew her toughest tests were yet to come. The phrase “student-athlete” meant something to her, so she continued to train in the pool, but made sure to keep her head in the books.

Neubert buckled down her sophomore year, finding a perfect balance between maintaining a high grade point average and hitting the water.

“Challenging, that’s all I can say,” Neubert said. “I focused on managing my time and really making more of an effort than I did when I first got here. But it was tough.”

The perseverance and grueling hours paid off. After missing her chance to make the NCAA’s in the SEC Tournament, Neubert headed to Austin for the Last Chance Meet, looking for one last shot. Neubert qualified on her second swim, granting her the chance to compete in the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

“It’s just an amazing feeling to have the NCAA’s as my last meet,” Neubert said. “I set this meet as my goal and I made it. I can’t put it in words, really.”

Neubert is joining 17 of her Aggie teammates at the tournament Thursday and throughout the weekend, the most competitors it has sent in school history. Competing in the 100 and 200-meter butterfly, as well as the 50 meter freestyle, you better believe Neubert will soak up every bit of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I can’t wait to get out there and compete,” Neubert said. “But I really can’t wait to cheer on my teammates and give them as much support as I possibly can. We are definitely here to win.”

Neubert graduated last spring and maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her college career, using her last year of swimming eligibility to grab her masters degree. It seems there is nothing more Neubert can do, well, except beat her mom in arm wrestling.

“I can take her now,” Neubert said. “I’m pretty confident about that.”