Sports Person of the Week
Zhang Brings a Quiet Intensity to the Pool
Guilford senior David Zhang is making significant contributions to the Greater New Haven Warriors co-op swim squad through his performances in the 100 backstroke, the 200 individual medley, and relays this winter. (Photo courtesy of David Zhang )
Whenever David Zhang lines up on the block next to his opponent, he knows that it’s time to lock in. Adrenaline surges through David’s veins as he prepares for the swim of his life. This is the mentality that David brings every time he competes in a race.
David, a senior at Guilford High School, is a member of the Greater New Haven Warriors co-op boys’ swimming and diving team that also features athletes from East Haven, North Branford, and North Haven. In its final meet of the regular season last week, GNH posted a 94-92 victory versus Cheshire to finish with a record of 8-2 and claim a share of the SCC Division I title.
David played a key role in helping the Warriors win the meet by swimming a lifetime-best time of 58.11 seconds in the 100 backstroke.
“It felt like everything was in place, so when I swam, it wasn’t necessarily the most effort I ever put in,” says David. “But by the end, it just felt like I properly utilized everything I had.”
David started swimming eight years ago, and he’s always enjoyed the organized nature of the sport. David competes on a year-round basis and likes swimming so much that he’s never had a desire to try any other sport.
One of David’s unique routines in both practices and meets is that he rarely talks between his sets or races. David feels that this approach helps him stay focused for when it’s time to make the plunge.
“It won’t be a surprise to any of my teammates saying this, but I don’t talk that much,” David says. “In practice, I like to focus on the upcoming set, rather than talking in between. For swim practice, a good set is one that has a clear focus which ramps up, yet maintains that consistency, where I can have a clear focal point the entire time.”
While David may be a man of few words, Head Coach Martha Phelan says that he still does an excellent job of communicating with his fellow Warriors. David’s goal is to improve with each race, and Coach Phelan likes being there to help him every step of the way.
“David is a cerebral swimmer. After racing, he communicates how he felt and then asks for my input. David trains with intensity, always with the end goal to be more efficient and faster,” says Phelan. “David has a quiet presence, but is an integral part of our team. David wants to do his part and understands his role when I explain his matchups before dual-meets. David has been crucial in the 200 IM, 100 backstroke, and relays. He is respectful, a real team player, and it’s been a pleasure coaching him the past two years.”
Due to COVID-19, all boys’ swimming competitions in the state are being held virtually this winter. The new format creates a different dynamic, but it hasn’t changed David’s mindset when it comes to competing.
“My favorite aspect of the sport would probably have to be the competition,” David says.
David and his teammates participated in the SCC Virtual Championship meet on March 18. Now, they have to wait to see how the other teams perform this week to find out where they will wind up in the standings. David is hoping that the Warriors performed well enough to take home the conference title.
“For this season, our team is really good with great depth and a strong diving team,” says David. “I really think we can take it all this year.”