Athlete of The Week

Amy Zhao ’14 broke Loomis’s pool record in the 50 Meter Freestlye on Saturday, stroking to victory with a jaw-dropping time of 27.13. Zhao’s efforts earned her this week’s Athlete of the Week honors.

When did you start swimming?

I started learning how to swim at the age of seven, and I began competitive swimming five years ago.

What made you choose swimming?

I’ve always loved being in water. When I was barely a year old, I would try to jump into the waters of Santa Monica [Calif.] beach and be swept out to sea (without knowing how to swim)… It was at a first grade pool party that I realized how much I enjoyed being in a pool (we were playing sharks and minnows). Plus, I really enjoy the feeling of being in water; after swimming, I feel refreshed.

What are your personal goals for the season?

My goals this season are to swim personal best times and to qualify for Long Course Nationals.

What are your team goals for the season?

The girl’s swim team is incredibly talented, and most importantly, everyone is so nice! This season will be a great one; we definitely have our sights set on winning the New England Prep Championships, but our first priority is to have a lot of fun along the way!

Do you swim outside of PA?

Yes, I swim with Soundview Y.M.C.A. Stingrays during the summer and over winter and spring breaks. Fall term, thanks to the hard work of Mr. Murphy [Dean of Students], Mr. Kuta,[Director of Athletics] and the athletic department, the pool was open several times a week. My teammates and I appreciated it a lot, and we were in better shape in the beginning of this term than last year.

What sort of training do you do for swimming?

The swim sets are based on the stroke or event you want to focus on. We usually split into sprint, stroke or distance. I don’t really know how they function, but the sets work wonders! By training with PA last year, I dropped two seconds in the 100 yard Butterfly, which is a lot in swimming standards. I also stretch, cross-train and do calisthenics to improve my performance in the pool.

Does the team do any pre-meet/practice rituals?

I can’t tell you that! It’s a secret. But I can say that our team and “seal” cheers right before the meet are probably the best in the swim league!

What is your favorite event and why?

I like most of the events, especially the 50 and 100 yard Freestyle and the 100 yard Butterfly since I’m a sprinter. The 50 is a lot of fun to train for and swim but can also be quite nerve-wracking. It’s such a short event that one tiny mistake, such as the start or turn, can cost the entire race. But the excitement before and after the 50 is definitely worth it. The 100s are sprints too but offer a little more breathing room; technical errors don’t count as much.