Isabelle Fortiz -Virginia Interview by Zoe D'Angelo Nomination by Rachel Fortiz Photography by Melissa Waller Photography Issue 32 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Isabelle Fortiz is an IB student and is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. She is a peer tutor in math and chemistry. She was on the Varsity swim team all 4 years of high school and was voted captain her senior year. Isabelle also plays the violin and has performed with the Rappahanock Youth Symphony Orchestra and for her high school’s Chamber Symphonia. Isabelle has certifications in American Red Cross, lifeguarding, and Water Safety Instruction. She is currently a junior assistant coach for the Rappahanock Area Stingrays.
Photography by Melissa Waller Photography
Tell us about your experiences swimming. Where did you swim before high school? I started swim lessons through Stafford County when I was 4 years old, where I developed a love for being in the water. I was introduced to meets and teamwork while swimming for a summer swim team, the Aquia Harbor Dolphins, from ages 9 to 12. When I was 12, I also decided to start swimming year-round with STAT to gain experience swimming in a more competitive environment. The following year, I joined the Massad Marlins for summer swim and switched to the Stingrays for year-round swimming. I swam with the Marlins for 3 years, until joining the Hampton Oaks Hurricanes, where I currently swim and coach. I continued swimming with the Rays for 4 years until deciding that coaching was my passion.
What is something not everyone knows about swimming? Something that not everyone knows about swimming is that it is very much a mental exercise as much as it is physical. Swimming requires a great amount of physical strength and endurance while using many different muscles. However, I find myself testing my mental toughness in long, grueling practices and while pushing myself to be my best during practices. I think it’s especially noticeable during meets and races. We’re all very dedicated to this sport, putting in the hours and the laps needed to reach our goals, so it becomes a matter of how hard and far we’re willing to push ourselves.
Photography by Melissa Waller Photography
What was it like transitioning from a swimmer to a swim coach? How is it different being on the "other" side? -> (The coaching side) Ending junior year, I decided that swimming in college was not something that I saw myself doing in my future. I realized that I didn’t want to step away from the pool completely, so I reached out to my Rays coaches about coaching the developmental group (10&U). The transition from swimmer to swim coach was simple because I started coaching at the start of the following season and I am still close with my teammates and coaches. As a coach, I have a greater appreciation for my coaches, teachers, and mentors, as well as a better understanding of the work they put in for my peers and I.
Photography by Tom McGowan
Tell us about your own service project, The Big Box Project. What is it? How did it start? What are you hoping to accomplish with it? I created The Big Box Project in December 2018 to collect toiletries and non-perishable food donations to donate to Empowerhouse, a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and abuse located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The project was designed to run for exactly one month as part of my Creativity-Action-Service “CAS” Project as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. I wanted to combine my swim, school, and social community to help give back to those in need
Photography by Rachel Fortiz
What does it mean to inspire others? How are you able to do that? To inspire others means to positively influence by setting an example of how to be motivated to work for a goal or to achieve something by having a strong work ethic. Beyond swimming, I am a full IB Diploma Programme student and a violinist in my school’s higher-level Chamber Sinfonia orchestra. I am a part of a senior class that showed the underclassmen that it was possible to do extracurricular activities, clubs, and sports as an IB student, as I will be graduating in the top 10% of my class.
Isabelle will be featured in Issue 32 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!