SMC's Own Swedish Fish
New to the Santa Monica College swimming team this semester is sprinter Sara Zandihn. In only her first 47 days in the US, Sara has already made a splash in four out of this season's five swimming meets.
She is an early childhood development major with a focus on special needs children, and hails from Malmoe, Sweden, where it is customary for children to learn to swim as early as age four.
As a child in Malmoe, Zandihn stayed active by figure skating and playing soccer, but swimming would be the hobby that followed her to adulthood. "I started swimming competitively when I was seven or eight," says Zandihn who currently swims the 50- and 100-meter breaststroke.
Before moving to the US to swim abroad (Zandihn's education was sort of an afterthought she admits), Zandihn worked as a teacher for young adults with autism. "It was really hard, and took a lot of patience," says Zandihn, but the experience left her with lifelong lessons. "Even though we weren't allowed to get too attached to our students it was hard to leave; they were crying."
But Zandihn felt she needed to refresh her passion for swimming, which led her to SMC.
In her short time on the SMC swim team Sara has managed to forge intimate friendships with her coaches and the rest of the Corsair swimmers. "[Steve Contarsy] is a really good Coach. Practice is really fun, my teammates are really...um...interesting," says Zandihn. "I'M SORRY I WET YOUR PANTS" she calls to fellow swimmer Tyler Contarsy; definitely an inside joke.
"Some Swedes only interact with other Swedes. [Being a student abroad on the swimming team] you get to know Americans," Zandihn says it only took a week before she felt comfortable with her teammates, who helped acculturate her to Santa Monica. "If I'm not hanging out with my roommates, I'm out with my teammates, at least when I have free time" says Zandihn.
A typical day for Zandihn begins with morning practice at 5:45 a.m.,which proceeds for about two hours. Then she's off to class (English and Health) from 8 until 10:50 a.m. After a brief lunch, perhaps tacos or pasta Bolognese, it's off to afternoon practice from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Zandihn then wraps up the day by hitting the books. If she still has any energy left after a full day, she'll spend it in a club dancing with friends to hip-hop or reggaeton.
Tough schedules don't seem to phase this dedicated young swimmer.
In the swim team's most recent away meet against the Bakersfield Renegades, Zandihn, who's regular events are the 50- and 100-meter breaststroke, had to swim a 500-meter freestyle race and then a 400-meter relay in second position. Both the men's and women's teams would come home from that meet victorious.
The Corsairs will be swimming at home this Friday, March 20 against Cuesta College and College of the Canyons. Come out and support this Swedish fish against foreign waters.