YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions w/ Aimee Flanigan

How long have you been on YFD?

I have been on the team for 7 years!

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

I knew I loved Northwestern from the first minutes I set foot on campus. In addition to its amazing location and beauty, the campus seemed to be bustling with smart, driven, and outgoing students who were ambitious and collaborative. The students I talked to and interacted with only confirmed this. Northwestern also offers a lot of opportunities to dive into different areas of study, and I’m excited to be surrounded by amazing students, explore my passions, and develop new interests!


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

I’m not 100% sure what I want to study, but I’m thinking about studying biology or public health, and possibly becoming a doctor.


What is your favorite memory of being on YFD?

It's impossible to choose just one, but some of my favorite memories of being on YFD come from training trips and away meets. Whether we’re barely making it onto airplanes in time, all crowding into one hotel room to talk and laugh, dancing before a practice or on the pool deck, or singing at the top of our lungs, YFD is a great community on the road and in practice. Traveling with YFD always made me proud to be part of such a caring, close, and fun-loving group of people. 

What is the hardest set you can remember doing?

A lot of sets will always stand out for how long and grueling they were, but one of Amine’s practices before MIT a few years ago set a new threshold for me. The set was 3 300s off the block, stroke, for time. The goal, as Amine explained it to us, was to swim the first 200 as you would a 200 of that stroke in a race, and then race the last 100, leaving absolutely everything you had in the pool, while getting faster each individual 300. I thought I was going to pass out in the water, and it took a huge amount of willpower to make it through the set and execute Amine’s strategy as best I could.


What is your favorite Amine story?

There are so many funny Amine stories, it's hard to choose just one. On a summer training trip to North Carolina a few years ago, Amine designed a complex exercise to practice breakouts in the ocean. Growing frustrated at our flailing attempts, Amine informed us that we were doing it incorrectly and offered to “show us how it's done.” As we watched, Amine misjudged a wave and dove headfirst into the sandy bottom, his feet sticking up awkwardly in the air. He then emerged from the water defiant and slightly bloody from a cut on his forehead as we tried to hold in our laughter.

But on the other hand, I remember a moment at our Northeast Showcase meet last year. I was feeling tired and terrified at the start of the third day, and I still had to swim some of my toughest races. My first event was disappointing. Amine saw that I was upset and assured me that I was strong, he believed in me, and that I could still drop time in my other races that day. In my moment of discouragement, his reassurance and faith meant the world to me and I felt supported.


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

I’d tell myself not to stress so much and to have more faith in my training. That's one thing I love about swimming: if you hang in there, the work will pay off, even if it seems impossible. Also, don’t get too caught up in how other teammates are swimming in practice. In the race, it's just you and the clock.

How did you balance academics and being a competitive swimmer?

Balancing swimming and academics has taught me a lot about time management and organization. To stay on top of school and swimming, I had to reach out to teachers and use the resources available to me to make sure I was doing the best I could. I also learned about the importance of prioritizing- while sometimes I had to miss a practice to finish schoolwork, swimming also provided a much needed break from the tedious grind of homework.


What is your favorite pre-meet meal?

I don’t have a specific pre-meet meal, but one of my favorites is salmon and rice. 

What is your favorite event and why?

I have two favorite events. I really enjoy swimming the 50 free because it's short and fast, and I always get really pumped up before it. I also love the 200 breaststroke. When I first joined the team, the 200 breast petrified me and dominated the whole weekend. However, as I got older and more experienced, I learned to love the event and treat it like any other race. The 200 breast taught me a lot about race strategy and my mental and physical strength. 


What is your proudest accomplishment to date?

I am proud of my determination both in the pool and in school. I am also proud to be a member of a team that is so motivated and, at the same time, doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

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

Swimming can be a fun part of your college application process by meeting coaches and visiting some schools where you could swim. But swimming is only one part of the college experience, so keep an open mind about other opportunities. I’d also say to have confidence in yourself and don’t be afraid of filling coaches in on your achievements. You don’t want to give the wrong impression, but the college process is not the time to be self-deprecating. Own your accomplishments!