By Sara Jhong
Some days it’s about getting in the water to smash school records and carry relays to state championships. Some days it’s about going to junior national meets and making finals in races. Some days it’s about the glory and adrenaline-driven race mentality. But most days, it’s not. Most days, it’s about swimming for the little girl who first fell in love with the way she felt in the water. Most days it’s about training to be good enough to do what she loves. Everyday it’s about her, and her passion and talent in the pool: something that she wouldn’t be herself without.
Senior Jessica Whang has been swimming since elementary school, longer than most students have participated on sports teams, and she has loved the sport ever since. Whang has trained herself to excel in what she does and what she loves through years of daily practice and physical workouts for hours at a time. Her achievements in the water are just another testament to the long hours of training in the water: finaling at Summer Junior Nationals and qualifying for Winter Senior Nationals multiple times throughout her high school career. After more than ten years of club swimming and six years of varsity, Whang is ranked twentieth in the country in the 100 yard breaststroke and is an All-American high school qualifier, making her one of South’s most successful student athletes.
She attends practice daily for hours a day, with high intensity training and dozens of teammates. Unlike school season sports that run exclusively during the fall, winter, or spring seasons, Whang swims all year round including during the summer when most student athletes take time off. There’s no off-season for the girl who doubles as a summer Junior National Finalist and a varsity swimming MVP during the fall season.
Whang also successfully balances athletics and academics. She said, “[it’s] all about managing your time and using it efficiently. I try to get as much homework and studying done throughout the day (during free periods at school or in the car to and from practice). Where most athletes would crumble under the pressure and intensity of training, Whang excels, and as co-captain of South’s varsity swim team for her senior season, that is more true now than ever before. She is committed to Yale University Class of 2023 to pursue her athletic and academic endeavors, excited to embark on a new chapter of her swimming career with a new team and also further her academic pursuits.
Belonging to a team has allowed Whang to grow as a person, surrounded by a community that has inspire her to combine her natural talent and hard work. She feels very supported by all of the people in her life. She said, “my various swim coaches, friends, and family have influenced my career by always supporting me, motivating me, and teaching me everything that has made me the swimmer and person that I am today.” She is the product of two teams that love her, and as her senior season ends, she looks at every race she has won for them and knows that they have shaped her just as much as she’s shaped them.