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Freshman transfer makes a splash

Leon Zhu ’23 breaks by the side of the pool during swim practice. While Zhu was ineligible to swim at meets this year, he continues to work hard in preparation for competitions to come.

Leon Zhu ‘23 has surprised many as he showed what it means to be an outstanding swimmer. After joining the team this winter, he continued his swimming career with a stunning debut.

“I saw him catching up with several Skutt swimmers. Then, I saw other people’s jaws dropping,” Joey Chen ‘20 said.

It all began as he tried to recover from an illness when he was younger. However, after going through physical training with swimming practice every day, he began to gain endurance.

“I was very sick when I was six, and that was when my parents suggested I should swim,” Zhu said. “Every single day, I swam two to three hours with extra physical training.”

According to Zhu, swimming is one of the most popular sports in China, which a lot of teenagers enjoy. However, he pointed out different styles of training in China compared to the U.S.

“In the beginning of my swimming career, I had to go through harsh competitions under pressure, but I can tell now that that was the moment when I showed the most improvement,” he said.

Swimming coach Kellie Harris also praised his athleticism and anticipates his future in swimming at Mount Michael.

“He does have the long, lean build that is typical of elite swimmers. He’s strong and he works hard. I have high hopes for the next three years,” Harris said.

Zhu is not eligible to swim this year due to the transfer rule, which you can’t play in the middle of the season. However, to prepare for the next season, he has been attending practices to meet more people and become part of the team for next year.

“I am super excited to see what he will be able to do because it looks like he can already compete with the best in the state,” Joseph Johansen ‘20 said.

While Zhu is only a freshman who joined the team after the season started since he arrived in January, he is already performing in practice..

“He’s not even eligible this year, but he enjoys coming to practice to work. He raced Joseph Johansen a few times in practice and it was pretty close,” Harris said.

As an international student from Shanghai, Zhu contributes diversity to the team. Yet, before coming to Mount Michael, he already knew a swimmer on the team..

“Leon surprised us all when he told us that he knew one of our seniors. He swam with Joey Chen back home in Shanghai,” Harris said.

Even though state qualifying depends on individual performance, team life is still important and Zhu has added to the team..

“It is just cool to meet people from different countries, and I think Leon will fit in well,” Johansen said.“Also, having them talk about how swimming is different in other countries is interesting to learn about.”

Zhu appreciates that swimming is a team sport. With the brotherhood he shares with teammates, he has a high goal for his swimming career at Mount Michael.

“My goal is to keep enjoying swimming with friends around and my teammates. If I can, I want to break the state record,” he said.

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