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YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions with Emilio Vicioso

We are so excited for our graduating class of 2019--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 two 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 two student-athletes are great teammates and role models! 

YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions with Emilio Vicioso

1) How long have you been on YFD?

3 years (2 years on Senior and 1 year on National)

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

When I was looking at schools last summer, I was focused on small liberal arts colleges. The first time I visited Hamilton College, the school immediately resonated with me. Hamilton’s beautiful campus and quaint town exudes a quintessential college feeling. After learning more about the various schools I visited, I chose Hamilton because the open curriculum provides an excellent opportunity for me to explore all of my interests, allowing me to determine what I truly want to pursue professionally in the future. Being undecided on my major, this was an important factor to me in choosing a school. From my visits to campus, I noticed Hamilton has a close-knit community, full of students and faculty who are all genuinely kind and curious people. Attending classes, I witnessed the passion for learning not only from students, but from professors as well. I love asking questions; therefore, it was great to see a high degree of student participation in the classroom. Overall, I could sense that Hamilton is a place where collaborative learning is encouraged and where the community is actively involved beyond the classroom, which reminded me of my experience at Dalton. In addition, Hamilton’s Swim Coach, John Geissinger, has been very enthusiastic about recruiting me from the day I met him in August, and he followed my progress throughout short course season by texting, emailing and calling me. At the Admitted Students’ Day in April, Coach John made me feel as though I was already a part of the team by organizing a dinner just for me with the entire swim team, which was pretty cool. Although I visited other schools and had overnight recruiting trips, Hamilton always felt like “home” to me. Lastly, the first time I visited Hamilton, Admissions gave me a voucher for a free meal, smoothie, and “signature” half-moon cookie from the town bakery. Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I love food, so I was very pleased with that!

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

At the moment, I am still undecided. For the past three years, I have been interning with a New York Supreme Court Judge, so I am interested in perhaps pursuing law. Also, architecture, biology and economics have piqued my interest in high school; therefore, I am happy to have found Hamilton, where I can freely explore, in depth, what I would like to concentrate in.

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

One moment I will never forget was from earlier this season at the very end of our team championship meet at Wesleyan University. After all of the events were completed, every team was gathered around the deck awaiting the announcement of the first place team. During the suspense, my mom had asked me to go onto the masthead to pose for some pictures while the pool was empty. It just so happened that, right as I went onto the masthead, the announcement came through that YFD had placed first overall. I remember Amine came running out of nowhere, shortly followed by Max and Kyle, to celebrate our win. We all hugged and were screaming like crazy on the masthead. Since the Northeast Showcase was my last short course meet with YFD, it was a really cool moment to share in the pure joy and excitement the whole team felt. It is a moment that I will cherish and reflect upon often.  

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

As a swimmer, one weakness is that I lack endurance. Although I can belt out a respectable 100 yard sprint, I find doing multiple sets very difficult, as it’s a challenge for me to maintain my speed over subsequent sets. So, one could see how a set consisting of 40x100s would seem somewhat daunting to me. The set was designed to push our endurance and ability to close in a race. It was broken down like this: 16x100s (every 4th pace), 12x100s (every 3rd pace), 8x100s (every other pace) and 4x100s (all pace). The pace 100s were prime stroke, and the rest were freestyle. At first, the set seemed normal to me, having 3x100s between each pace 100 was a nice break; however, once we hit the round of 12 and I was already beginning to get tired, the set became exponentially harder for me. I lost recovery time, yet had to maintain the same speed as I had started with. Although I was proud that I made it through the whole set, I exited the pool barely able to catch my breath and with the sensation that I was going to vomit. Luckily, I didn’t.

6) What is your favorite Amine story?

One of my first experiences with Amine was the summer of 2018 when I was on Senior Prep and qualified for the TYR ISCA Summer Senior Championships in Florida. I went with a handful of National swimmers, who I was already friendly with. By the end of finals on the last day, everyone was completely exhausted after our 5-day trip. We had become quite accustomed to our routine of waking up very early, eating in the car ride on the way to the meet, racing, going back to the hotel to eat lunch and nap, racing again, eating dinner and going to bed for the night - - just to repeat the cycle in the morning. However, on the last day, Amine proposed a different plan. We had been in Florida for nearly a week without even going to the beach! Amine insisted we go to the beach so we could hang out and see the sunset before we left. Some swimmers were reluctant to go, so it ended up being just me, Tyler, Arielle and Amine. Up until this point, I had limited interactions with Amine. From what I could gather, Amine was a strict and intense coach. I was absolutely shocked when he pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall so that we could all pick up Dunkin’ Donuts and go to the Dollar Store to get sunglasses! I figured maybe my initial impressions of Amine were wrong. When we arrived at the beach, I saw that Amine had two sides: he could be the coach who ensures all of his swimmers eat healthy, practice hard and race even harder, and he could also be the kind of coach who takes his swimmers to the beach, tosses a foam football around with them and challenges them to a race across the sand (which he did end up winning). Although he is our coach and is very passionate when he is on the pool deck, Amine truly cares about his swimmers. There is practice and competition time, but he also wants to make sure we are all having a good time and enjoying our childhoods as well. Amine never fails to be there supporting us. Whether it be a congratulatory text after I broke a minute in the 100 breaststroke for the first time, or when he pulled me out of the pool after I had a bad practice, Amine pays attention and notices everything. Amine definitely surprised me that day in Florida, but now I can see why I shouldn’t have been surprised. He has a big heart.

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

“Don’t worry about what other people are doing.” I started swimming competitively relatively late, at 15 years old, with never having any technique or endurance training. At my first YFD practice, I did not know what an IM was when Coach Naomi told me to do it. Although I was one of the older swimmers, I did not understand the lingo, nor have the technique or speed, as a new swimmer. Unfortunately, this frustrated me in practice and at meets, but, thankfully, Coach Naomi and Coach Nelson encouraged me to stay positive and to not compare myself to anyone else. I’ll admit that there were some struggles along the way and sometimes it wasn’t easy. Eventually, I learned that as long as I focused on my own lane and didn’t worry about who was in the lane next to me, then I could begin to improve with a more positive mindset, prioritizing my own success.  

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

For 2.5-3 hours everyday after school, I had an escape. Teachers could not make me do homework or take tests and my parents could not make me do chores. Swimming everyday gives me a break from everything going on that may stress me out, because I have a mental break where all I have to do is move my arms and kick my legs. As I use this time to decompress and just think about things that may have been going on in my life, both positive and negative, it can almost be like a form of meditation. Coming home from practice, I would have very limited time to do my homework, which forced me be productive with the time I had. I have learned how to effectively organize my schoolwork in order to get it all done on time. On days swimming is canceled or we are on break, I end up procrastinating, thinking I have more time, and I go to bed later than I normally would.

9) What is your favorite pre-meet meal?

Spaghetti and meatballs, all the way! And, of course, I always bring a big bag dedicated to my snacks including applesauce, Raisin Bran, Gatorade, protein shakes and Ritz crackers.

10) What is your favorite event and why?

The 100 breaststroke is my favorite event because it is long enough to require a tiny bit of endurance, yet short enough that I can sprint the whole entire race without the fear of dying out too fast. I love playing around with my stroke rate and breaking down every single aspect of my 25s in order to perfect my racing strategy. Seeing as it is only 4 25s, I like to make sure I know exactly what I plan to do before I approach the block since there is no time to think during the race itself.

11) What is your proudest accomplishment to date?

I started swimming competitively 3 years ago when I joined YFD. At my first meet in October 2016, my 100 breaststroke was 1:27.19 and my 200 breaststroke was 3:04.28, as a 15 year old. This March, placing first overall in 2 events at the Northeast Showcase with 59.15 in my 100 breaststroke and 2:11.72 in my 200 breaststroke, I still replay those races in my head and I humbly remind myself of what it took to get those times. I have put so much effort, time and passion into swimming, which has been constantly supported by all of my caring YFD coaches and loving family, in order to get to a point where I was recruited to swim at several D1 and D3 schools. That is something I am very proud of because I never gave up, and no one gave up on me!

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

Remember your failures. There will be situations where you let yourself down, you are out-touched in a big race or you simply thought things would turn out differently. These are the moments that will fuel future success. By remembering what went wrong in the past and being mindful of making corrections, you can take the steps to ensure those mistakes do not happen again in the future. By doing this, you can turn a negative situation into a positive mindset, which can drive you forward. During my college interviews with swim coaches, both my successes and struggles were discussed. One coach pointed out: “you can’t break a minute in the 100 breast without some hurdles, so tell me about them”. I believe that it is crucial to identify the mistakes, weaknesses or struggles that got you to where you are, especially when it comes to being recruited for swimming collegiately. It only portrays you as being strong and able to overcome adversity.