Getting the Zhang of It

The Corsair talks to Isabella Zhang, who set the state record for 100-meter freestyle at the California Community College State Championships.

Corsair: How did you train for these meets and getting these times?

Zhang: I officially started training in February. I didn't train in offseason, they did a lot of work in the water during offseason, and I was solely an academic student in the fall. I started training in the winter because during fall I had class during practice time I really wasn't doing a lot of stuff in the morning, just trying to get into shape for the meets when I had the time too.

Corsair: What does it feel like to have earned a record-breaking time?

Zhang: Surprising. Because I haven't had as much training as everyone else. I didn't expect it. I expected to go back to my best time of last year, but didn't expect to drop such an amazing time. I dropped nearly 2 seconds in the 100 free and also dropped seconds in all my events, the 50-meter freestyle, and the 50-meter butterfly.

Corsair: How has the reaction been since you had this record breaking time at the WSC meet?

Zhang: Everyone is really amazed or surprised by exactly what I did. They were all happy for me. At the conference I actually broke the record in both prelims and finals. They were happy that I came out with such a great result. The ladies that came with me to the championship, Sarah Ritz, Sarma Vemjamis, Chelsea Kemp, and Namhee Kim, were all so thrilled.

Corsair: What are your plans now?

Zhang: LMU is in the process of recruiting me right now, and I would also like to be a walk-on over at USC.

Corsair: How long have you been swimming?

Zhang: I have been swimming for 12 years.

Corsair: How do you feel about the SMC swim and dive team?

Zhang: This year, we are overall really different. Previous years, we weren't a real "team." We discovered how important it is to cheer each other on, especially at the WSC. Only five of us who made it to state for this year, and even though it was all women, the guys still came to the state championship to support us.

Corsair: Are you considering continuing swimming in the years to come?

Zhang: Yeah. Maybe not for competitions, but as a hobby, and for fun and to keep in shape.

Corsair: What's the best part about these competitions?

Zhang: The satisfaction of seeing yourself improving bit by bit. I'm a sprinter, so when I'm focusing on all my other techniques that I am not so good at and improving by even a hundredth of a second in these areas that are not my specialty, it's really rewarding.

Corsair: Do you partake in swim & dive outside of SMC? If so, Where?

Zhang: No. I only swim at Santa Monica.

Corsair: Where would you like to see the future of SMC swim & dive to head?

Zhang: I hope they can form a larger and stronger team, as right now there are not as many males as there are girls. I hope that more men can join, and also more divers. An even number of both. It wasn't that we were trying to win the women's division this year, but we just happened to take second. We need to get more than five swimmers at the Western State Conference Championships.

Corsair: What people have the biggest influence on your life?

Zhang: My dad. He is my inspirational coach. I used to go to the pool after school everyday. No one could take care of me and since my dad worked at the pool... I had to go. So I'd watch peoples' strokes, copy them, watch and realized how interesting it was to be in the water. My dad has been coaching me throughout my swimming career.

Next week, The Corsair will talk with Sarah Ritz, who set the state record for the three-meter dive at the California Community College State Championships.

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