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Two-time Olympians Aria and Makenzie Fischer hope to sustain success … and the environment

By Kerston Corns, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication | July 25, 2021, 10:36 a.m. (ET)

Former Olympian Janet Evans smiles alongside U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team members, and sisters, Makenzie and Aria Fischer.

Whether it was baking bread, pursuing TikTok stardom or streaming endless at-home workouts, the pandemic forced many to find creative ways to fill time.
For two-time Olympians and sisters Aria and Makenzie Fischer (Stanford Water Polo),  they sought out creative ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. 

“I got really into sustainability over quarantine by just reading a lot about it,” Makenzie said. “I’ve always loved nature and hiking, but I feel like I wasn’t the most knowledgeable about the impact that we all have every day.” 

As Makenzie began studying a new lifestyle approach, the rest of her family joined her. 
“Obviously I’ve been learning a lot about sustainability on my own and through Makenzie who is super into it.” Aria said. 

Their father, Erich Fischer, a Stanford alumnus and a 1992 USA water polo Olympian, said it “really was Makenzie who got the ball rolling and got us all kind of interested, including Aria, myself, and my wife. … (We’ve) kind of done it together.” 
After Makenzie encouraged them to be cognizant of daily habits, the Fischer family quickly began making simple changes to their everyday lifestyle, which soon resulted in the development of their own backyard compost. 
“I got it started because of Makenzie,” Erich saidl. “She suggested that we should start composting and I didn’t really understand. Well, if you throw food scraps in the trash, what’s the difference between you throwing it in the trash and it going in a landfill or you having it decomposed in your own compost, until Makenzie explained it.

 “And well it’s very different. In the landfill,  it turns into methane and in your backyard compost, it has enough air and nutrients to actually break down into usable soil.” 

 Soon what started small scale transformed into a new family routine for the Fischer family. 
“We were living in an apartment, so I keep all my scraps in the freezer and then I bring it down to him on the weekend,” Makenzie said. “He always brings me out there and shows me what he’s doing and what he’s done differently so he’s the hero of that.” 

Erich said he “just learned along the way, what’s worked and what didn’t and what was manageable and what wasn’t. Now we have a two-step process where I put it in one bin to kind of get going, and then I put it into an open bin later on to finish off.” 

Although water polo is back in full swing, quarantine allowed the Fischer sisters to understand the importance of finding passions beyond the sport. 
“We’ve always loved water polo but it’s super nice to have something away from the pool that you’re interested in,” Makenzie said. “I just get really excited about little swaps that I can make, which I know probably doesn’t excite too many people. But that’s been really nice to have when we have a lot of down time and a lot of time in the house just learning about that stuff.” 

Sports are an important part of the sisters’ lives, Erich said, but he is happy to see they have found balance and a passion outside the pool.

Not that they have overlooked their work in the pool. The U.S. women’s team started out in preliminary competition with a 25-4 victory over China Saturday.

Both Aria and Makenzie found a way to take advantage of their newfound free time during the quarantine and grew in ways beyond the sport of water polo. 
And they already have their next adventure in mind.
“We have all of our backpacking gear and we’re going to go on a backpacking trip this summer after the Olympics,” Aria said. 


Kerston Corns, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Kerston Corns is a journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a collaboration between the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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