How old were you when you started swimming and what made you try the sport?
I started to learn to swim when I was 8. As a child, I had an immense fear of the water. My mother, in an effort to help me overcome my hydrophobia, signed me up for swimming lessons at Hood College. It was a life changing experience. Within a year, I not only overcame hydrophobia but also became proficient in all strokes.
What do you like about swimming?
I love the smooth and natural feeling in the water. Furthermore, I enjoy the team aspect of the sport, as it allows me to form friendships and bonds with my teammates. I’m going to miss the after-school team practices, evening meets, and pasta parties.
You swam on a 200 freestyle relay team that set a record at this year’s Frederick County meet. Talk about that race and what it felt like for your team to get the record.
The 200 freestyle relay was a big deal for me and my teammates. We had been calculating potential relay splits and aiming to break the county record a few weeks prior to the county championship. Winning the race was a collective effort, and I’m extremely grateful to my teammates Ali [Hegazi], Stephen [Lombardi] and Jay [Parente] for putting out their best effort. Finishing first and seeing the record time was absolutely amazing. I feel so honored to have been the anchor of that relay. Moreover, I managed to carry this energy into the 100 breaststroke, where I was narrowly out touched for first place, and winning the 400 free relay with my teammates Ali, Garrett [Frank] and Jay.
You also won the 100 butterfly at the county meet. Talk about that race and winning a county crown as an individual.
Two days before the county championship, I had been very sick. The night before, I had a fever and only slept for 2-3 hours. In the morning I was not sure if I had the ability to perform at my best, especially when I was consistently coughing and struggling to breathe. However, I didn’t want to give up for myself and for my teammates, so despite my sickness, I vowed to go out, swim fast, and win. The 100 fly was my first race that day. I was very nervous, but under the encouragement of my coaches and teammates, I raced my guts out and ended up winning and breaking my school record. I couldn’t have been more grateful for the outcome of this race. The good Lord’s blessings allowed me to swim fast and helped me win three races in spite of my illness.
Aside from swimming, what are some of your other interests, things such as hobbies, activities or maybe even other sports?
In addition to swimming, I participate in the NJROTC program at school where I serve as the Battalion Commanding Officer. I also love music and play the piano. Looking back at my four years of high school swimming, I feel so proud to be part of the TJ swimming and diving team. I am grateful for my teammates’ support and friendship. I am also grateful for coach Ellen Colket and coach Adam Frank as well as the TJ athletics director Mr. [Mike] Chavez for their encouragement and support.