By CLAIRE TOBIN
One might expect the hardest part of competitive swimming to be the two-hour morning practices or the feeling of getting water-boarded after messing up a flip turn. In competitive swimming, air is painfully rationed and muscles are pushed until it may seem more like controlled drowning than swimming. However, senior Justina Zuckerman isn’t daunted by any of this. Instead, she insists that the hardest part is simply getting in the pool. “There’s always a moment right before I get in where I ask myself, ‘Do I really want to get cold and wet?’”
Even though Zuckerman confessed that she is often the last one in the pool, she is one of the leading women swimmers for Colorado College. She swims the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle along with all of the relays. “My mom was a swimmer and got me involved in the sport,” Zuckerman said. She has been swimming ever since she was six years old and still loves the fierce competition. At the tender age of six, Zuckerman only practiced four days a week. Fifteen years later, Zuckerman has swim practice six days a week and strength and conditioning three times a week. “It’s better than my high school practices,” Zuckerman said. “We had 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. practices three days a week.” At least CC has practice in the afternoon, and the time commitment keeps Zuckerman on track with her school work: she’s a political science major and a feminist and gender studies minor.
The swim season started off third week of Block 1 and comes to and end just after fifth block break, unless the team makes NCAAs. Zuckerman feels confident about her performance thus far this season, but is eager to see what the upcoming meets have in store for her performance-wise.
Zuckerman sets attainable and flexible goals, which are reflective of her healthy and competitive attitude towards swimming. “I’m a little bit faster than [past seasons],” Zuckerman said. “I got first and second at the first two meets [and now] I’m going after all of my personal records. I just want to see what I can do.” Zuckerman would also like to make the NCAA cut, but insisted that if she didn’t, she would still be very happy with her season.
“Experiencing success in swimming gives me such a boost and makes me feel pretty badass,” Zuckerman said with a smile. To prepare for a race, she will aggressively slap her lower body to get the blood flowing and jump up and down. “I also have to have Gatorade Shot Blocks before a race. I NEED the Blocks,” Zuckerman stated.
The swim team is an energetic and fun-loving group of hardworking students. They are one of the most close-knit teams on campus, and Zuckerman attributes that to coed training and the difficulty of competitive swimming. “You need such a strong team atmosphere because it kind of sucks… Don’t get me wrong—I love it. But objectively
it sucks. It’s not like you’re playing a game…you’re swimming constantly,”
she explained. According to Zuckerman, one of the reasons she’s stuck with swimming is because it encourages such a close team, and that’s not always easy to find.
Zuckerman has never felt burnt out with swimming, and she attributes that to both the team and her well-rounded lifestyle. “Swimming has always felt like an intrinsic part of me,” Zuckerman said. “But it’s never been the complete picture.” Zuckerman is looking forward to the next meet, which is right here on campus next Tuesday, Nov. 14.