By Nicholas Nerli
The Lewis & Clark swimming community attracted a significant addition to its women’s team for the 2018-2019 season, receiving a verbal commit from high school senior Alys Chang. Chang, a student at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California, competes for the Santa Clara Swim Club. On Jan. 21, Swimming World Magazine published an article announcing Chang’s verbal commitment to LC, highlighting numerous competition times throughout her high school career that made her an appealing recruit.
Chang described a desire to attend a college that combines strong athletic programs with rigorous and challenging academics. These criteria resulted in her choosing LC over the University of San Francisco and Whittier College.
“I chose Lewis & Clark because I love Portland, a supportive and attentive sports program, and the small ratio between students and teachers,” Chang said via email. “Lewis & Clark appealed to a major factor in my decision: the support in the sports department.”
Chang also discussed the strength that the LC swim program offers, especially the impressive leadership of coaching staff and the cohesion of the swimming team.
“When a coach knows exactly what to do with his/her team, it makes me more comfortable and confident in them and their goals for me,” Chang said. “The solid coaching staff and supportive sports program is what I saw in LC and is what drew me in the first place.”
Throughout her high school career, Chang performed well enough to receive national rankings and the attention of several collegiate swimming programs. In the 100 breaststroke, Chang’s best time at a competitive meet is 1:10.75. Her 200 breaststroke time is equally outstanding at 2:28.72. Both of these times would have made Chang LC’s best women’s breaststroke swimmer during the 2017-2018 season.
Additionally, Chang’s times in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle would have ranked second best during LC women’s 2017-2018 season. She would have been fourth in the 200 freestyle during this year’s season.
Throughout her time swimming for the Santa Clara Swim Club, Chang described an experience that was both rewarding and demanding. As a young swimmer, Chang swam some of her best races that made her into a fierce high school competitor. However, her junior and senior years also had personally profound moments that shaped her mindset as a swimmer. In particular, Chang noted a July 2017 meet in Fresno, California that was one of her proudest achievements as an athlete.
When outlining her swimming career before the Fresno meet, Chang explained a state of frustration and ambition to keep advancing her performance. This led to an impressive finish in the 200 breaststroke.
“Being one of the older swimmers, I had peaked in speed and I hadn’t been able to get to my best times for about a year and a half,” Chang said. “The race was painful, like any other race, but the last 50 meters was even more exciting because my coach was right next to me and yelling go, go, go every time I took a breath. Once I hit the touchpad at the finish, I looked at the scoreboard and started crying. It read 2:59.53. This race made me so proud because it felt like the weight of an elephant was off my body, and the burning sensation in my body felt well deserved.”
To ready her for the challenges associated with college academia and athletics, Chang said she felt that her high school offered sufficient preparation.
“My high school career prepared me for a huge load of work without cracking under pressure,” Chang said. “It trained me to be able to do work without feeling any harmful negativity.”
Currently, Chang is interested in studying history and psychology, particularly child development. She also has a passion for art and would like to study art history at some point in her collegiate career. Chang listed her mother and Coach Chris Fantz as people who were helpful when she made her college decision. Ultimately, Alys Chang is greatly looking forward to becoming a member of the LC community and representing the Pios as an athlete.
“I am looking forward to meeting teammates and having future successes as a team,” Chang said. “I love everything about Portland. I’m excited and ready for anything, but mostly the food.”