(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
As the first half of the season starts to wind down, the Arizona State swim team is looking to wind up the intensity of its practices. The swimmers strive to build on the momentum they’ve gained this season and one in particular, sophomore Patrick Park, wants to do one thing–get faster.
Park, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, has a history of fast swimming. In prep academy at the Peddie School, he teamed up with three other Division I-bound swimmers, and the four of them became the third team in high school history to go under three minutes in the 4 x 100-yard freestyle relay.
When Park came to ASU, he wanted to start a new chapter of fast swimming.
“The Peddie School was definitely a blessing for me,” Park said. “We were some of the few schools to make the sub three minute club. That guys’ team, we were like brothers, and I thought there was no way I was getting that in college, but it was exactly the opposite.”
In the first half of his sophomore year, Park proved to be arguably the best swimmer on the team. His versatility perhaps was his biggest asset. When said he can swim any event from the 50-yard sprint freestyle to the long distance 400-yard individual medley. Park holds top times in the 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly.
“Going into the season, I really wanted to push for it, grind it out and swim with a chip on my shoulder,” Park said. “There are going to be some times in practices where you’re not going to be able to work as hard, but when you get on deck, you’ve got to be able to just go for it.”
Although Park’s swimming dominance stands out, he cares deeply about his teammates–something that may be less noticeable to the outside viewer. At the Art Adamson Invitational, Park was a key swimmer on the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relay teams that recorded some of the fastest times in the nation.
“Team means brotherhood,” Park said. “Every day you compete as a team, you race as a team, and you train as a team. I’ll do anything for those guys. Those guys are my brothers.”
Park also gives credit to his coaches. He said they give him insight about his endurance and technique. Conveniently, ASU has some of the best coaches in the country working with Park, especially on the butterfly. Head coach Bob Bowman conditioned Michael Phelps into the best butterflier in history, and assistant coach Misty Hyman won the gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly at the Sydney Olympics.
“What I like to work on (with him) is the underwater kicks off the wall, and Pat has been working on extending those and making them even better,” Hyman said. “What I love most about Pat’s stroke, is that he has a natural talent for making butterfly really easy. He has a very low and forward breath, and I think he is just starting to crack the surface of his potential.”
Training with coaches of this caliber particularly makes Park excited to practice every day.
“It’s absolutely a blessing,” Park said. “Every day we walk in and we see the pro team practicing, and our coach is their coach. I say ‘thank you’ every day for the opportunity to race. ”