Jason Shu: Another set toward success

Jonathan Zhang

For sophomore Jason Shu, swimming is more than just a sport. It’s a safe haven from the challenges of school, and something that keeps him going. Although Shu was recently crowned fastest sophomore in the breaststroke event at the Massachusetts state meet, he was not always the strongest swimmer, and it took a lot of hard work to get to where he is now.

“I remember I was really bad [and] hated getting into the water because it was cold,” Shu said. “But when I realized that I was starting to improve faster than everyone else, I thought that I could take it somewhere.”

These little bits of improvement were Shu’s motivation moving forward and turned swimming into a joyful experience.

“Seeing your times drop and knowing you’re improving because of the hard work that you put in,” Shu said. “I find that rewarding and it makes me happy.”

As a breaststroker, Shu has always looked up to Cody Miller, an American olympic gold medalist specializing in breaststroke.

“I’ve never met him before, but he runs a YouTtube channel and vlogs himself swimming and his everyday life as someone who trains as a pro,” Shu said. “And I think it’s really interesting and motivates a lot of people to work hard, especially if you’re a swimmer.”

On top of swimming, Shu balances a rigorous academic course load. Currently, Shu takes all honor level classes and Advanced Placement statistics. Yet, Shu ensures that his love for swimming doesn’t hinder his academic performance.

“Swimming is an extracurricular so generally academics are more important,” Shu said. “I prioritize academics first, and then if I’m in a good spot, I’ll put all my focus into swimming.”

Swimming also acts as a place for Shu to get away from his troubles and relax. For Shu, it’s his way of meditating.

“The feel of the water as it rushes past your face,” Shu said. “It’s soothing, yet exhilarating, but also the most satisfying feeling.”

Shu is a member of the Wayland High School Swimming & Diving Team and has created memories and experiences that have shaped him and fostered his love for swimming.

“It’s the community,” Shu said. “The memories you make with your fellow peers are unimaginable. There’s nothing like it. And the bonds that you develop with everyone and your coaches… it’s amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

In preparation for the state meet, Shu did two-hour practices six days a week, and for three of those days, trained in sessions called sets. During each of these sets, Shu would have to focus on a certain drill in an attempt to solidify it.

“Technique is the foundation for all of swimming,” Shu said. “If you have good technique, you can focus on power and speed: practice is just preparing for your race.”

For Shu, sets are his way of creating a strong mentality leading up to a race and is the reason why he trains so much. Shu is convinced that this mentality, built upon a foundation of training, is the main reason for his success.

“Mentally, for me, I know how much work I’ve put into the season. I know how hard I’ve tried, I know what I’ve been focusing on,” Shu said. “If I can be the best that I can be during the practices leading up to the meet, then that’s all I need to be mentally prepared and to know that I’m capable of performing at my absolute best during the race.”

Shu believes that in the moments leading up to an important meet, one shouldn’t stress and should instead trust their abilities.

“Before the race, you think about everything you’ve done in practice and you just block out everything else,” Shu said. “You’ve trained yourself for this moment, and you’ve prepared yourself to swim fast, so then you just get up on those blocks, and you just go. You put everything you have into it and you just swim.”

According to Shu, there are certain ways to improve the way one swims. For new and experienced swimmers, Shu believes there are some things that can always improve.

“Focus on technique,” Shu said. “It’s going to hurt and you are going to want to give up, but you have to push through it if you want to get better. And when you do get better, you are going to realize [it] was all worth it.”