Emmi Zheng, a freshman for the Lawrence University Swimming team, has been lighting up the scoreboard with her quick times and consistent work in the water. In December, she took first at the Fun in The Sun meet in Venice, Fla. in the 50 yard breaststroke, clocking in at 0:33.88. Since then, she has maintained a high level of success with her teammates, finishing in the top three multiple times in relay events.
So, where are you from, and what drew you to Lawrence?
I’m from Minneapolis. When I visited Lawrence, students and faculty welcomed me into conversations more than people did at any other college. Fitting into the dynamic of a school is more important to me than anything else, so that was the main reason I decided to come here.
How do you keep yourself focused before you swim? Do you have any pre-meet mantras you have to do?
I don’t really have any big superstitions. When I was in high school, my team would listen to the song “Right Now” by Van Halen before big meets, so I usually visualize my races while listening to that song.
Is there anything you do in your spare time that you think helps with your performance?
I love watching inspirational movies based on true sports stories. Even though I don’t necessarily think about swimming when I watch them, I think that the attitudes of the athletes help me mentally in the pool.
What’s one thing you’ve enjoyed so far this year as a Lawrence student?
This isn’t exactly a Lawrence event, but I really liked the weekly farmer’s market that they had on College Ave in the fall. I would go every Saturday, mostly for the fresh fruit, but one time I also bought a space-themed painting from a street artist.
In your mind, what has been the easiest and the toughest parts of being on a collegiate team?
The easiest part has probably been feeling welcomed on the team. I like that people are friendly to everyone no matter how fast you are in the pool. The hardest thing for me has been balancing swimming with other activities and friends. Since the season started so early in the year, I wanted to make sure that my Lawrence identity is more than just swimming.
How different does the atmosphere of Lawrence feel from where you’ve been previously?
I went to a pretty accepting high school, but here there is even less judgment. I like that it’s a small campus but there doesn’t seem to be a lot pressure to be quirky or alternative in order to fit in.
How have your teammates helped you with your transition into the life of a collegiate student-athlete?
People are just genuinely nice, and I’ve noticed that we cheer louder than any other team we’ve competed against, so it’s amazing to be a part of such a positive community. There are swimmers from a lot of different majors on the team and the upperclassmen are always open to answer questions about Lawrence.
Over the past few seasons, the Lawrence University Women’s Swimming team has been rather impressive, having a few athletes that have broken records for the school still in the pool. What do you think you bring to this team to help keep the trend going?
My best stroke is breaststroke, and I am on track to score points at conference in my events. It’s been nice to have fast upperclassmen on the team who know how college swimming works and are used to the pressure of swimming fast when it counts.
I see you grabbed some top honors for the Fun In The Sun meet. What was your reaction when you won? How do you plan to keep up that level of excellence?
Thank you! The Fun In The Sun meet was during our training trip in Florida. It was shorter and more relaxed than our normal dual meets, but the other team was pretty fast, so I was proud that I won my race. In swimming, it’s easy to just mindlessly go through the motions to get through a workout. I try to really think about swimming better, not just working hard at practices.