By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Friday, April 12, 2019
It won’t be long before people will read Becca Mann’s name among the credits of TV shows and movies.
She’s in her final two years of film school at the University of Southern California, where she also was a member of the Trojan swim team until turning pro last summer and foregoing her final two years of college swimming eligibility.
It’s her dream to go into TV staff writing with the goal of being a show runner on her own TV show one day.
For now, however, she’s taking the year off from school to focus on training for upcoming Open Water National Championships and a spot on next year’s Olympic Team.
She’s willing to wait for the TV credits if she can place her name among swimming’s elite next summer in Tokyo.
“It was hard to balance screenwriting, which requires full immersion and commitment, and college swimming, and I knew I wasn’t reaching my full potential in either by trying to do them both,” said Mann, who will return to USC this fall (if she doesn’t make the Olympic team) or next fall (2020) if she does.
Since leaving USC, Mann has been training in Arizona with Bob Bowman and has been at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs this week preparing for Open Water Nationals.
Considering she competed in her first 10k open water competition in Miami (the site of this year’s Nationals) May 3-5, she’s excited about returning to give it all she has in her third Open Water Trials.
This year’s meet is particularly important because the U.S. contingent headed to Open Water Worlds this summer will be chosen from this meet and be eligible to compete for the United States at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“I absolutely love open water and am so excited for Nationals,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to getting back on that course! It (Miami Marine Stadium) is such a great venue.
“I just love being in the water and competing. Open water is amazing in that you get to surround yourself in nature and challenge yourself. I love that there’s so much strategy involved and that you get to use your brain. Honestly, my love for the sport is what motivates me.”
Mann said if she doesn’t finish high enough at Nationals to qualify for Worlds, she will compete next summer at pool Olympic Trials – also her third attempt to make the Olympic pool team.
And although she admits she has been focusing heavily on open water training and competition and not much toward pool events, she can’t pass up an opportunity to make next year’s team at her third Trials in Omaha.
“Life changes your perspective on everything, and I love watching fast teenagers come up knowing that I’m somehow eight years older than them,” said Mann, who was 14 at her first Trials in 2012.
“(Next year) 2020 will be my third pool trials, and I will have done three open water trials. Not sure if that means I get to say it’s my sixth. I don’t know how I got so old!”
Mann said no matter what happens next month at Open Water Nationals or next summer at Olympic Trials, she won’t swim beyond 2020 so she can return to USC and finish her education.
She said she wants to go into TV staff writing because she loves writing “the long narrative and how we get to connect with characters over tens-to-hundreds of hours.”
Through her courses at USC, she’s learned that viewers grow with the show and are able to relate to – and even find courage in – the characters and scenarios.
“Being able to create imaginary worlds that people can connect to is my dream,” said Mann, who published a book in 2014 called The Stolen Dragon Of Quanx, the first part of a planned trilogy. “It’s crazy how much I’ve learned over the past three years. Storytelling, and specifically screenwriting, is so much fun for me because it’s so challenging.
“I’m currently working on two hour-long pilots and one feature. I get and give notes with friends from the Writing for Screen and Television major weekly about our scripts, which has helped me progress without being in class. I also talk monthly with my writing mentor, Bob Tzudiker. Writing is my passion. I don’t think I could stop if I wanted to!”
And despite the success she enjoyed largely in the pool at a very young age, Mann said when she decides it’s time to walk away from swimming, she will look back with nothing but joy and pride for everything that she’s accomplished.
She said because so many people think of the Olympics as a label of greatness the pinnacle – it’s difficult for them to see and appreciate an athlete’s entire body of work.
Not so for her.
“For so many people, it’s either ‘Olympian’ or ‘not an Olympian,’” she said. “Very few people know the sacrifices and work I’ve put toward swimming, but that doesn’t matter to me because I know. I know what I’ve done and how great I am.
Not making it (the Olympic team) mattered a lot in 2016, and it was difficult for me to work through the disappointment. No matter what happens, it won’t be like that again since I’ve gained perspective on life. Swimming is such a small part. I’m so proud of my swimming career. It has been, and continues to be, super fun. I’ve traveled to so many places and had so many unique experiences. It’s helped the world become my playground.”