Say hi to Harrison Yi. He’s a math major, and was named NJAC Swimmer of the Week earlier this month. Time to get up close and see how he got here.
> Some of my earliest memories of swimming are just of learning how to swim in general. Mainly splashing around and playing with friends.
> I was 5 years old when I joined my first swim team. It was the local swim club’s summer team: I think it was called the Tenafly Tiger Sharks.
> As I got older, I got more competitive and started training six hours a day. Practices can be tiring, but when you’ve practiced properly and are rested enough, it feels effortless, and that is when it is the most fun.
> Swim practices are always in the early mornings. I think it helps with the mental toughness. Plus, big races always start early, so it helps you prepare for competition.
> I swim middle-distance freestyle, so that’s 100, 200, and 500 yards. I was the NJAC Rookie of the Year as a freshman, but I got my best times so far as a sophomore more. I’m really flexible, and that helps me pull the water.
> Behind the starting blocks waiting for my race, I have a set routine: I stretch a bit and shake out my arms and legs to loosen up. I slap my chest and legs a few times and take deep breaths. Right before I get to the start, I exhale pretty sharply, kind of like a grunt. I try to empty my head and not think too much and just let muscle memory take over.
> Competing lets me push myself; it gives me someone to chase down at the end of a race when I’m tired and need the motivation. The adrenaline rush it provides when you narrowly beat someone definitely outweighs the nerves that come with it.
> Last year, the TCNJ team went to Aruba for training. We ran up and down a mountain. I am not known to be one of the stronger people on the team when it comes to dryland training, but I held my own there. I was proud of that.
> Another thing about swimming I like is the people it has allowed me to meet. I’m not a very social person, but I’ve been able to have a close group of friends among the teammates I swim with. I live with some of my TCNJ teammates. I am not the best roommate though. My side of the room is always messier.
> I’m not sure what I want to do for a living yet, but I really enjoy math. My favorite class is abstract algebra. It’s the study of structures rather than number systems. Unlike most math, which is very calculatory, you can’t really imagine abstract math in your head.
—as told to Kara Pothier in the fall 2018 issue of TCNJ Magazine