YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions with Alec Kahn

We are so excited for our graduating class of 2018--both for all of their accomplishments here at YFD as well as the hard work it took in the classroom to be accepted to such prestigious universities . For each of the next three weeks, we will spotlight one member of our class with a series of questions. We hope that you will share this with your swimmers as these three swimmers are great teammates and role models! 


YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions with Alec Kahn 


1. How long have you been on YFD? 

This is my 11th year on the team.

2. Why did you choose the school you will attend next year?

I chose Harvard for a lot of reasons, the first being the kids that I met there. The ambition and the drive they seemed to have when I visited for a week obviously impressed me, but it was actually their down-to-earth and humble personalities that attracted me the most. Of course, there are several other reasons. For example, I can swim club there (which allows me to continue swimming, and also leaves a lot of time for me to explore other things, such as water polo and writing). Furthermore, I really love the writing publications there, and I want to contribute to them. Lastly, the academics of course played a large role in my decision

3. Do you know what you want to study? If so, what?

I want to study both science (biochemistry, probably) and literature. While I have always been kind of a STEM-oriented kid, for some reason I love literature and I want to study that further in college.

4. What is your favorite memory of being on YFD?

Wow, this is a tough one. Countless days in the pool, speed-walking down the side of the pool deck to cheer for each other, early morning wakeups and brunches together--it's nearly impossible to choose. However, the training trip in Puerto Rico (two years ago), was one of the first moments I realized how important the team was to me, and how much we all felt like a pseudo-family. On the car ride to ever single practice, we would blast music and sing at the top of our lungs (honestly, I can't imagine this was pleasant for Amine, as we are not exceptional singers). At night we would all cram into one room and play games, or watch movies, or sing some more. This was kind of the beginning of a new era of the team for me, one where we were more than just swimmers and teammates to each other.

5. What is the hardest set you can remember doing?

Oh, boy. I remember about six years ago, on thanksgiving morning, Amine gave us the most ridiculous and difficult set. We had all woken up for that 5am-7am practice expecting an easy practice (after all, it was a holiday!). Instead, however, we were greeted with: 800 IM, 2x400s butterfly, 800 IM, 2x400s backstroke, 800 IM, 2x400s breaststroke, 800 IM, 2x400s freestyle. I was only about 12 at the time, and just the sheer amount of consecutive butterfly was terrifying. The set was exhausting both mentally and physically, but I always look back on that day with a bit of pride (and perhaps a bit of laughter).

6. What is your favorite Amine story?

There are so many memories I have of Amine teaching us how to be strong, focused, motivated, and overall good people. But my favorite two moments (I couldn't choose just one) are times when he taught me to just enjoy life, to kick caution to the wind and have some fun. The first is when we were on the beach on a training trip, about an hour before our next practice, and Amine wants us to race on the beach. But not just us--HE wanted to be included in the races. So there we were, a couple of teenagers and a 20-something adult, lining up along the wet mounds of sand. As tired as we were, as sore as we were, and as foreboding the next practice seemed, Amine got us all super excited to just kick our shoes off and run. We sprinted across the beach, and though I can't remember who one (Amine will claim that it was him), it is a very fond memory for me. The second memory I have is also on a training trip, this time the last practice of the trip, from 6-8 pm. We had spent the entire week putting in countless hours of hard work and were exhausted. Furthermore, the water temperature of the pool seemed to dip to nearly extreme temperatures (or so we felt), and some of the smaller swimmers got out in the middle of practice to go take some hot showers. After about an hour of sprints, Amine told us all to get out of the water and put our clothes on. This made sense--we could hardly swim, the water was so cold--but what happened next surprised me. Amine said we were going to drive an hour and forty five minutes to Miami. He was exhausted, we were exhausted, but there we were, making the night-time drive to Miami. And I have got to say, that was an amazing end to a trip full of both hard work and fun. Amine has really taught me to make my own memories, go down my own path, and I really look up to him.

7. If you could go back in time and tell yourself something as a younger swimmer, what would it be?

There are so many things I could say about racing--focus on this aspect of your technique, make sure you warm up before races, spend time visualizing for your race--but honestly, I would tell myself to have fun and enjoy the time you have on the team. Swimming wasn't just a sport or an extracurricular, it's a part of my childhood. It's where I met some of my closest friends, and I have poured so much time and energy into the sport. Some of my fondest memories are at the pool, and I think the time went by much more quickly than I thought it would. Some of the older kids who I used to be extremely close with are still my friends, but it's not the same, not seeing them every day. I wish I could flip back to 8 years ago, when the sport really started becoming competitive for me, and when the practices started to get very difficult. College seemed so far away, so I didn't really think about what would happen when I left, when I was the one leaving. So I just wish I had spent more time appreciating my time as a YFD swimmer.

8. How did you balance academics and being a competitive swimmer?

This has been quite a rollercoaster. Honestly in my opinion--though I imagine some people would beg to differ--swimming actually helps with time management, especially when your younger. It structures out your afternoon better, and it subtly forces you to organize all of your work efficiently. However, there comes a time (probably in high school) when the amount of work becomes so large that swimming in addition to that feels overwhelming. However, swimming is actually necessary at this point, because it is the one time during the day where you can slow down, clear your head, and not be thinking about schoolwork. So swimming didn't really get in the way of my work; in fact, it helped me manage it.

9. What is your favorite pre-meet meal?

The night before? Some (any) form of pasta. The morning of? Eggs and toast (light and delicious) 

10. What is your favorite event and why?

The 400 IM. Though I admit I have a very complicated history with the event (sometimes/often despising it), the 400 IM is a super fun event to train for and race. It's a pretty long race, and the fact that you use all four strokes means that it involves a good deal of strategy (how to conserve enough energy for the end and how to play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses).

11. What is your proudest accomplishment to date?

My proudest accomplishment is probably qualifying for sectionals two years ago. There are so many times where you miss your goal, even after so much hard work (which is part of the reason the sport is so great--it teaches you to be positive and resilient), and this is a moment where I felt like all of my hard work had finally come to fruition. So many hours in the pool, and when I looked up at the clock I saw my time and it all felt worth it. All of my teammates stood behind the block, cheering and high-fiving me. It was just a really happy moment.

12. Do you have any advice for the younger swimmers on the team who might want to swim collegiately?

Swimming is no doubt a huge part of the college process as a prospective recruit, and going on recruiting trips and visiting the teams can be extremely exciting. However, I urge you to not get too caught up in the emotions of meeting the team and the coaches, because you are going to college to LEARN. The team may be a large component of your collegiate experience, but the academics and other aspects of the school should also get you excited (often coaches say that swimmer's should use the "broken leg" test--will you still like the school if you broke your leg and you couldn't swim?).