Brooke Fuller reads a sentence and, in many cases, must read it again to absorb its message.
She has repeated this over and over, day after day and year after year. Not a homework assignment goes by without Fuller working extra hard, no doubt harder than most.
She was diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading disability, as a child. To her, the words on the page can run together, or reverse in order, or do other confusing contortions.
"I have to double-check everything," she admits, "to make sure I get it right."
Two words, "hard work," define Fuller, a Johansen High graduate, both in the classroom and in the water. She's become both a good student and a championship swimmer simply by outworking both processes.
Small wonder why she's once again The Bee's choice as Stanislaus District Girls Swimmer of the Year. Fuller loves the day-to-day grind toward the pursuit of goals, and she especially loves to swim.
Her performance at last month's Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Championships at Lodi's Tokay High illustrated Fuller's drive. She placed third in both the 100 and 200 freestyle, improving on her fourth and fifth places in 2009, and became the only district swimmer to bring home section medals (top three).
Better still, she accomplished it despite a 100-degree fever the day before which left her at less than 100 percent on the big day.
"It was a job well-done for me," Fuller reasoned. "My workouts were great and my taper was right-on. I was swimming the right times even though I wasn't feeling my best. I was happy with what I did."
Fuller's sunny attitude, supplemented by old-fashioned determination, has served her well. Swimming, a physically daunting and often lonely discipline, demands an upbeat outlook for success. Fuller worked out virtually every day to reach the section's highest level.
"She didn't need much motivation from me, other than just being positive. She's just a driven athlete," Johansen coach Brent Bohlender said. "What I always tried to do with her is to keep positive. She never was high-maintenance."
Fuller's work ethic also paid off away from the pool. Hours of therapy were needed in her personal fight against dyslexia. The results were better than good — a 3.0 GPA as a junior and a senior and a swimming scholarship at Fresno State.
"I had to study hard and get help from my teachers and stay on top of it," she said. "It has gotten better over the years. I wondered about how I would do in math in high school. My family provided great support. If I didn't have my family, I'd be nowhere."
This is how she did it — eight hours of sleep each night, homework in the evening and perhaps the next morning, and off to school and swimming. She wishes her spelling was better, but she'll accept the tradeoff for two hard-earned medals.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.