Emily Driscoll and Cindy Dong set school records

Cindy Dong (first year) reflects on breaking school records in the 100 fly and 200 fly 8 weeks into the season at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 30th, 2018. Zachary Forsyte/The Occidental

Occidental’s women’s swimming and diving team broke records at their tri-meet with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) and Caltech at CMS Nov. 17. Cindy Dong (first year) and Emily Driscoll (first year) broke both school and personal records. According to head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach Steve Webb, this is a great accomplishment and shows a lot of potential for the rest of their season.

Dong set a new school record in the 100 fly (57.42) and 200 fly (2:06.22) short course and Driscoll broke the school record in the 100 back (57.47) and 200 back (2:06.38).

Driscoll had been swimming for a club team and her high school varsity team but did not expect to break records in such a short amount of time.

“I wasn’t expecting anything, especially this early on,” Driscoll said. “So, it is really exciting. My goal is to always be myself. That’s always my goal  to improve myself and I want to get the best times.”

Dong said she is also surprised by her records, since she did not have year-round training, but is now relieved to see that she has gotten her yardage back.

“I wasn’t training that much in high school, and once I came here, I was kind of shocked how much we were training, but it actually pays off so much when you actually do all of it,” Dong said.

According to Dong, she was not focused on breaking any records.

“I didn’t realize what the records were, I was just trying to swim as best as I could, and did not realize I was going to break them,” Dong said. “I was just swimming, people were like ‘Oh okay, good job,’ and my roommate was like, ‘You just broke the school record.’”

After putting in so much work and training throughout the weeks, swimmers saw their work pay off through these records, according to Driscoll.

“I saw my time and was immediately so happy just because I know we’ve been working so hard, and I’ve never lifted before, and we’re in the weight room three times a week and the pool six times a week, so it’s nice to see all of our hard work already paying off,” Driscoll said.

According to Webb, Dong and Driscoll have a great work ethic, which he believes can propel them forward to perhaps make it to national championships.

“Both of them won their lifetime best times, and for swimming, that’s a rare occurrence for only eight weeks into the year,” Webb said. “So, I was really excited to see that. Swimming’s a sport you typically only swim fast at your conference championship, so for them to swim that fast as early in the year is a great sign. That means they’re certainly going to keep improving from where they’re at.”

Laura Chun, one of the team captains along with Webb, is impressed the two first years are already breaking school records.

“Cindy and Emily are such impressive and hard-working teammates,” Chun said via email. “It’s been really exciting to watch them train and swim fast early in the season. They deserve these records and I know over the next 4 years at Oxy they will continue to get faster. Wanting to break these records again will continue to motivate them. I am so excited to see how fast they will swim at SCIAC this year.”

Chun said her role as a leader at this point in the season is to keep her teammates motivated.

“Upperclassmen will cheer you on and all the other first years will cheer you on,” Dong said. “They won’t just do that during lift, they’ll do that in practice and [say] ‘Good job you guys, we have one more.’”

According to Driscoll, the upperclassmen have also been getting motivation from the talented first-year swimmers.

“Our team is really good this year,” Driscoll said. “We had a lot of really talented freshmen come in, which made the upperclassmen work harder. It’s been a positive feedback cycle, which encourages us to work harder.”

According to Driscoll, the camaraderie between teammates has impacted the performance of the team.

“Our team is amazing,” Driscoll said. “I have so many good friends on the team that I feel like I have known for years, even though it’s just been a few months. I honestly think that like they’re the reason why I’m so happy here and why I’m successful, because I wouldn’t have been working so hard if it weren’t for them.”

According to Driscoll, these accomplishments remind swimmers of their passion for the sport.

“It’s incredible — it’s definitely hard to explain, but it’s the reason why I swim, the reason I get out of bed every single day at 5:50 in the morning,” Driscoll said.