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YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions with Juliette Bichon

This week, we are thrilled to spotlight our second member of YFD class of 2018! Please share Juliette’s questionnaire with your swimmers.

  1. How long have you been on YFD?

I have been on YFD for 5 years.

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

I chose Tufts for a variety of reasons. I knew I wanted to study in a mid-sized university, but also in a large city. When I visited Tufts, I saw that it was not only academically excellent, it was also a diverse, international, tight-knit, curious and hardworking community in which I would feel at home. I love the city of Boston and I believe the team is a good fit for me both regarding times and mentality.

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

I am not sure what I want to study yet, but I am interested in psychology, physics and linguistics. 

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

I have so many incredible memories of being on YFD. From joking around in the pool, to dancing and singing during meets and training trips, to supporting each other after bad races, I can’t choose which memory is my favorite. However, I can remember one moment that really struck me. I had gone to the Long Course Junior Olympics over the weekend with only two or three other swimmers, and made a Sectional cut in the 400 IM, which I had been trying to do for almost two years. The day after the meet, when I came back to practice, everyone on the team welcomed me by cheering and congratulating me for my race. Amine even hugged me! I felt so unbelievably proud and supported by my team. It was an incredible feeling and I know I will never forget it.

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

I think the hardest set we do regularly is the 2:01 set. The set consists of doing an undetermined number of 100s freestyle, on 2:01, while always coming back on the top of the clock. The interval therefore stays the same, but you have to go faster and faster to make it by the top. As 100s passed, swimmers got eliminated, until it was just me, Alec and Sophie in the pool, everyone else cheering us on. Tom, the assistant coach that year, was calling out “Just make one more!” and I quite honestly felt like I was about to die. My arms were numb, my legs didn’t work anymore, I was crying in frustration, and I just wanted to stop and lay down to take a nap. What made it hard was not only that it was physically challenging, it was also that you had to subject yourself to the pain and voluntarily keep going. Nevertheless, although it was the hardest set I have ever done, I still ask to do it again during every training trip, because it is so fun to see how far you can push yourself.

  1. What is your favorite Amine story?

My favorite story of Amine happened a couple of years ago. It was at MIT, in 2014, during Devon’s 200 freestyle. I had only been on the team for a year. Devon started swimming and already Amine was getting excited. He was encouraging him, waving his arms and yelling for him to keep going. After the first 100, everyone knew Devon was having an amazing race. He was way ahead of every swimmer in his heat, looking smooth and fast, but most of all, Amine was quite literally losing his mind. He was jumping on the side of the pool, yelling, flailing his arms around and cheering on Devon like his life depended on it. I had never seen him like that—I thought he was going to fall into the pool. As Devon finished his 200, dropping an impressive 5 seconds, Amine called out his recognizable “Good swim!” and looked like the happiest, proudest coach in the world. Amine has cheered in that same way many times since, but as a 14-year old only just joining the world of swimming, I had never been so impressed at a coach’s dedication to his swimmers.

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

Keep trying hard, don’t give up, even when you feel like quitting. Believe in yourself: the hard work you put in will pay off eventually. Be supportive of your friends. During meets; relax, have fun! You won’t be fast if you’re too nervous about a race. Enjoy the pain, enjoy being with your friends, and don’t overthink it too much. In general; cherish every moment—the years go by way too quickly.

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

It is definitely challenging to balance academics and such a time-consuming sport. I didn’t sleep much! I always tried to do as much work as I could over the weekends, and I always started my homework straight away as soon as I came home from practice. Most of all, I just tried to stay motivated, to have a goal and work towards it, always keeping in mind that hard work would pay off in the end.

  1. What is your favorite pre-meet meal?

I’m not very picky with food, so any meal that involves pasta is a good pre-meet meal for me!

  1. What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event is probably the 200 IM. The first time I swam a really good 200 IM, I just told myself to sprint every stroke like it was a 50 of its own. Being able to switch strokes after only a 50 makes things a little easier because you use different muscles, but it also changes things up and makes the race entertaining! You might be winning after the first 100 and then have someone catch up to you in breastroke and end up fghting for first place in the last 50…  You never know what might happen in a race like this one, which is why I think it is so much fun!

  1. What is your proudest accomplishment to date?

I don’t really have one particular accomplishment that I am the most proud of. I think in general I am just proud of having been able to maintain great academics while pushing myself to my limits in the pool every single day! I am proud of small accomplishments in the pool, like making a particular set, staying positive when I feel like quitting, encouraging friends even when I don’t want to, etc. I don’t have a one big accomplishment to talk about but I am proud of having many small ones.

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

Contact coaches as soon as you start visiting colleges! Be kind, respectful, ask questions! If you want to get recruited, talk to coaches about it, even if you think you’re too slow. From personal experience, I was almost recruited to a team that I considered much faster than me, only because the coach liked my personality and knew I would work hard. Coaches are a lot less intimidating than you think they are. Meet team members if you can, go on recruiting trips if you are offered any, and most of all find a college in which you know you can be happy. It doesn’t matter if the team is much slower than you – you won’t be happy on a team that is toxically competitive, even if it is fast.