Check out the fastest swimmer in Hawaii. Hongzhe Sun is 16 and he's a champion swimmer for the Iolani Swim Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the USA Swimming U.S. Open this year, Hongzhe had the fastest times in both the 100m and 200m backstroke races.
Hongzhe was born in Shanghai, China. It wasn't his idea, but he started swimming when he was just four years old. "Some coaches from the Chinese National League came to my school," he says. "They told me one day I would be a swimmer. At the time, I didn't even know how to swim!" The coaches were right after years of practice and hard work, Hongzhe's gone on to become an Olympic hopeful for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
Hongzhe is a real team player, and says he's always happy to see other swimmers on his team do well. In fact, he says his favorite thing about swimming is the other kids he gets to swim with. "It's just great to be on a team and make friends," he says. "We're really close and we all stick together."
Know Your Limits
Hongzhe says the best way to make sure you have a great time in the water is to be careful and take care of yourself. "You have to know your limits. Know your body and know how long you can safely stay in the water without getting tired." Hongzhe practices nine times a week. You don't have to practice that much, but you do need to make sure to work on your strokes and not push yourself further than you can handle.
Once you learn to swim, you can do all sorts of other cool things in the water. Hongzhe likes to surf, play water polo, and go kayaking. You can also try water skiing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing. But before you hit the H2
O, check out BAM!'s H2O Smarts
article. And when you're outside in the water, make sure you protect yourself from the sun
Swimming has taken Hongzhe on some pretty cool trips. "It's been great to travel and see different places," he says. "I feel really proud when I get to represent my country." Hongzhe represented the USA at the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia (a French island near Australia). He's also been to Alaska, Arizona, and California for swimming competitions.
If you're just getting started, Hongzhe recommends you sign up for lessons at your local pool. "When you're young," he says, "just have fun with it." As you start to improve, you can even sign up for a swim team and work with coaches to get better if you want. But if you want to swim competitively like Hongzhe, he says you have to stay focused. "You always have to have a goal," he says. "Put the goal in perspective and you will succeed." So put on your swimsuit and get in the water!
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