Upon entering Andover, Marcus Lee ’21 changed his main stroke from breaststroke to backstroke to contribute to the team. At the two biggest meets of the season, Lee placed 17th at Eastern’s and 8th at New England’s in the 100-Yard Backstroke, in addition to participating in relays. According to Head Coach David Fox, Lee was was a key contributor at Eastern’s last year, despite being a new member of the team. “As with anyone new to the team, Marcus spent last year adjusting to the training and to the team’s strict focus on swimming fast at Eastern’s. I failed to realize that his omnipresent state of chill belied nervousness at the championships, but he figured things out on his own and swam great,” said Fox. Also according to Coach Fox, Lee has greatly improved his skills for a variety of different races this season. “Marcus returned to the program this year with a much-improved fifth-stroke, the crucial underwater dolphin kick, and he has been training very well in both sprinting and middle-distance. He is going to do great in these last four weeks,” Fox said. Because of his willingness to reinvent himself for his team, Lee has been selected as The Phillipian’s Athlete of the Week.
How did you get into the sport?
My mom wanted me to be a cello player—a cellist—and to protect my fingers, she needed to find a sport for me that wouldn’t be contact-based… so my mom was like, ‘Oh, I think swimming is a good sport.’ She basically threw me in the pool, and I started swimming.
When did you decide that you wanted to go to a boarding school?
I went to summer boarding camp over seventh grade summer and I thought the boarding experience was really cool…. The swimming program at Andover was another big reason why I came here, because at that time, my swimming was gradually getting faster and I was getting [good] times for my age, so I was like, ‘wow, I really want to come here and get good.’
What did Andover change about your swimming career?
I was pretty fast at my school. I held around ten records over there, but our swimming wasn’t fast. I came here and then everyone was suddenly super good… You get everyone here who does everything and they’re fast at their own thing. I came here entering as a breaststroker because, back then, my breaststroke was my strongest suit. Coach decided to train me for backstroke because I [did individual medleys] and we already had a lot of breaststrokers like Arnold [Su ’20] and [Captain Neil Simpson ’19], so there was no need for another breaststroker like me.
When Mr. Fox told you that you had to swim all-new events when you joined the team, how did you trust that you were still going to improve?
Honestly, at the very start, I was a little skeptical because my breaststroke has always been my strongest. I didn’t know if I was going to improve or not. I didn’t really know, but all I knew was that the key to improving is just practicing, and so what I tried to do was practice backstroke as much as I could. Jack [Warden ’19] and Nate [Smith ’18], who also swam backstroke, taught me a lot of things that helped me with my backstroke and my backstroke got faster.
Can you briefly describe your favorite race that you’ve ever had?
My favorite race here at Andover was probably the 200-Yard Free Relay at New England’s. Even though we came in second to Brunswick, I was in the relay with Nick Isenhower [’18], Will Kantaros [’18]. I was the third leg because I was the slowest, but that was a really fun relay. It was really hype and it was really memorable because it was the A relay. That was my first time being in the A relay at a big meet, actually second time because I did it at Easterns, but the vibe of the Phillips Exeter Academy pool was full of people and everyone was just screaming, ‘Go! Go! Go!’ It was really Exeter and during that race, my heart was racing. It was fun, and it was nerve-racking. But in the end, we did our best.