By Sherlock Ortiz
Miles French ’18 is a psychology major, residential advisor, varsity swimmer and men’s swim team captain competing in his final season at Lewis & Clark.
His events are the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke races as well as the 200 and 400 yard individual medley (IM). An IM consists of swimming all four strokes (crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly) within one race, 50 yards of each stroke for the 200 yard, and 100 yards of each stroke for the 400 yard. He recently broke the school record for the 100 yard breaststroke, which was his season goal. He is one second away from breaking the school’s 200 yard breaststroke record, and hopes to break it before the season is over.
French started swimming in fifth grade because he had a natural affinity for the pool.
“I hated running, which eliminates a number of dry land sports,” French said. “I have an odd body type that allows me to do swimming more naturally than other people.”
French took his first break from swimming in his sophomore year at LC when he became an RA wanting to focus on that job before diving back in to the pool. He also took the spring of 2017 off to study abroad in London. When he returned to campus in the fall of 2017, French felt he had fallen behind because of studying abroad and a busy summer job and found it hard to return to a routine. By taking care of his health and diet outside of the pool, he was able to catch up and break the record mentioned above. The coaches on the swim team helped him significantly as they approach the sport from all angles and help the team members balance everything in life.
Swimming has the longest season, from mid-September to the end of February, and is difficult and exhausting. Swimmers have a very short winter break, and come back to campus at the beginning of January for training every day until school starts.
“Not only are you exerting yourself extremely but you’re also deprived of oxygen and in an environment that we’re not natural to,” French said. Swimmers usually spend at least three, but usually four or more hours a day exercising, both in the water and doing dry land exercises. Though coaches balance exercises to allow for some recovery, the team is almost always tired, but always ready to go again. French said that the coaches and the team get along very well. Outside of the coaches’ offices in Zehntbauer Swimming Pavilion there are always swimmers hanging out on the couches.
The 32-person team is extraordinarily close this year, according to French.
“The swim team is always extremely tight-knit, and we spend a lot of time outside the pool together,” French said. “This year exceptionally the vibe, I’ve noticed, is just so wonderful and so intensely close, and there hasn’t been a lot of drama which is awesome. Because sometimes when you’re with that many people for so long, there can be some drama.”
Coming into the 2017-18 school year, Miles had a lot on his plate. He is an RA, had a senior thesis to complete and is captain of the swim team, which are all stressful. However, having clear priorities of what to strive for made it easier to fit everything into his schedule.
“I don’t have down time,” French said. This has put stress on his relationships with people who live off campus or who are not athletes.
“It’s really impossible to empathize with student athletes,” French said. “On top of hours of class, some days I have four plus hours of really intense exercise. It’s not just getting my heart rate up, it’s putting my body through extreme hoops.”
Time allocation is often a point of contention between student athletes and their non-athlete friends.
“I think what it comes down to is just communicating with my friends whom I can’t see all the time and finding quality over quantity time with them,” French said.
French is considering medical school, but will be taking at least a year off from school. He will most likely stay in Portland and try and find a job or internship in the medical field. He is considering taking a break from swimming and pursuing yoga.
“That’s not the same brass as swimming, it’s more of holistic wellness instead of just for exercise,” French said. Nevertheless, he believes that something would be missing from his heart if he abandoned swimming completely.