Photo Courtesy of UR Athletics

Sophomore Gunnar Zemering claimed first place finishes in both the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races this past weekend. He was also a member of the 200-freestyle relay which placed first, and the 200-medley relay, which placed second. He has been honored as the Liberty League Male Swimmer of the Week.

1. How did you first get into competitive swimming?

In the Netherlands, my dad would bring us to our public pool almost every day, where we played games and went off the slides. I first started racing when we moved to Evansville, Indiana, but after moving again to New York, I stopped for a few years. I got back into it when I was 10 because I really wanted a pair of towel pants—which were only sold at swim meets.

2. Do you have any rituals you perform before starting a race?

I do my best to get rid of all superstition and focus on being physically and mentally ready for the race. I stretch out, eat some fruit snacks and take deep breaths to store oxygen before the race. For relays, we always huddle up and discuss our race strategy before we go and motivate each other.

3. What is your favorite aspect of the sport? Why?

Definitely the team. In a sport that’s so time consuming and physically draining, it’s vital to surround yourself with people that support you in every way. Our swim team does exactly this: the chemistry on UR swimming and diving is incredible. We help each other in practice, with homework and almost everything else outside of the pool. The team, including the coaches, is a close family and it has always felt that way at practices and meets. The positive energy is what keeps everyone pursuing improvement.

4. How did it feel to have such a strong performance this past Saturday, including two individual first place finishes?

I’m just excited to see how the rest of the season goes.The meet this weekend included some close races which simulated what the race environment will be like at the championship meets. The team and myself are on the right track but we still have some work to do before Liberty League and University Athletic Association Championships. To be this close to my personal bests so early in the season is a good sign, but I’m more focused on what I can do differently in my races and relays to score more points for the team.

5. What is on your mind as you look forward to the Liberty League championships in December?

These next three weeks are crunch time. It’s time for [us] to condition ourselves even harder and perfect our technique in the pool. We have some strong competition this year, so we will have to make sure that our races and relays are on point if we want to defend our titles. I also “Amazon Prime’d” some “SpongeBob” DVDs to keep us busy on the long bus ride to Liberty Leagues.

6. Would you rather have cooking lessons from Batman or Harry Potter? Why?

Even though Batman would have top-of-the-line equipment to cook with, he wouldn’t be that great at it because Alfred has cooked for him his whole life. Harry Potter and I could definitely whip up some delicious chocolate frogs or strange flavored jelly beans, but, at the end of the day, nothing beats my mom’s cooking.

Eber is a member of the class of 2017.

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