Breaking barriers on the block

Preseason conditioning injury pushes athletes to new heights

Thomas Begley, Staff Writer

Heavy breathing echoed throughout the weight room as the MN swim team trained for their upcoming season. Everyone’s breath seemed to hitch as junior Andrew Zheng fell to the ground. 

On Nov. 23, Zheng was doing box jumps and surpassed the height of the box, inadvertently kicking it out from underneath him. Zheng fell to the ground fracturing his radius. 

After setting the school record in the 100 meter breaststroke and being in the top ten in the 200 IM during his sophomore year, Zheng wasn’t ready to sit out his junior season. If anything, it only increased his desire to make his mark in the pool.

“Andrew is competitive. He does not like losing and did not want to give up. Sitting out was not an option that was discussed at any time,” head swim coach Andy Cunningham said.

His teammates agreed, encouraging him to keep going, and supporting every decision he made. 

“Injuries are really hard to overcome during a three month season, but I think I would have done exactly what Andrew did,” varsity swimmer Riley O’Toole said.

To accommodate for his injury, Zheng made adjustments in the water in order to minimize his time and maximize his performance. While his original cast allowed him to swim similarly to before the break, the new brace he received has increased his cautiousness.

 “I have to make sure that I don’t hit it against the walls too hard and put too much extended force on it when [I lift or] get in and out of the water,” Zheng said. 

With the support of his friends and family, he is continuing to make waves throughout the swim community. While also taking advice from his peers and his mentors. 

 “The swim team has created a good friend group for me, and there’s a lot of motivating people in that friend group,” Zheng said. “[They are] people who I see as mentors and take advice from.”

While persevering through injury may not be for everyone. Zheng  is prepared to finish out the season stronger than ever.