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AMERICAN CANYON — Natalie Ritter trains and competes year-round as a swimmer. It’s a commitment and discipline for the sport that she says has “built me as a person.” She added that it has helped her become a good organizer while also balancing all that is going on in her life.

Ritter will continue with her routine of swimming and the daily workouts that come with it after she graduates from American Canyon High School next month.

“I really like being a part of a team,” said Ritter. “Working out also makes me feel good, healthy and a part of something.

“I think what changed the most throughout my four years was my dedication. Once I started seeing progress in my stroke, I wanted to continue it. I felt that was through dedication and showing up to practice on time and doing all of the sets and workouts.”

Ritter, a senior, signed a national letter-of-intent to attend Whitman College of Walla Walla, Washington and swim for the Blues, who won their third straight women’s team title at the Northwest Conference Championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash., in February.

Ritter, an honor roll student who plans to major in biological sciences, will receive an academic scholarship. Whitman is a private college and an NCAA Division III member. Division III schools do not offer athletics scholarships, according to ncaa.org.

Ritter has visited Whitman, meeting with the coaching staff and sitting in on one of the classes.

“I was looking for a small school,” Ritter, 18, said at a signing ceremony on Friday in the school theater. “Whitman’s team reached out to me. They made me feel like a part of the team already, going in there.

“I connected with not only the athletics, but also the campus and the academics as well.”

Ritter was joined by her family — her parents, Michael Ritter and Karen Ritter, and her sister, Rachel Ritter — at the signing ceremony.

Natalie Ritter, a team co-captain for American Canyon High, swims the 100 and 200 breaststroke, 200 individual medley, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 free relay.

She has been a member of the Solano Aquatic Sea Otters, a club team based out of Solano Community College in Fairfield, for the last three years.

She has qualified for CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and CIF North Coast Section Championship meets.

She placed in four events at the Vine Valley Athletic League Championships, which were held at Vintage, in April.

Ritter swam on the Wolves’ winning 200 medley relay team and second-place 200 free relay team. She was fourth in the 100 breaststroke and sixth in the 200 IM. The Wolves were third in the girls team scoring.

She won the 100 breaststroke and was second in the 200 IM in a VVAL dual meet against Napa.

“Watching her compete is really awesome,” American Canyon head coach Sarah Wolfe told attendees before turning to Ritter and adding, “I’m excited to watch you grow and have fun. You have good motivation and you persevere with a positive attitude always.”

As a junior, Ritter helped American Canyon to the title at the Solano County Athletic Conference Championships. She was on the winning 200 medley and 400 free relay teams. She also won the 100 breaststroke.

“She’s got natural form. She’s very fluid. Very efficient,” Michael Ritter said.

Natalie Ritter swims both short course and long course.

Her personal records are 1:09.21 in the 100 breaststroke short course, 1:20.01 in the 100 breaststroke long course, 2:37.90 in the 200 breaststroke short course, 3:03.05 in the 200 breaststroke long course, and 2:29.57 200 IM short course.

Ritter got her start in swimming with the AHI Swim Team of American Canyon. It’s a competitive recreational team.

She played water polo her freshman year at American Canyon.

Ritter has a 3.9 unweighted grade point average and is president of the bio-tech club at ACHS.

She has been a volunteer for three years at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

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Executive Sports Editor

Executive Sports Editor Marty James has been with the Napa Valley Register since 1979. He is a member of the Associated Press Sports Editors, California Prep Sportswriters Association, and the California Golf Writers Association. He was inducted into the