Yuka Suzuka, a fourth-year back and individual medley swimmer, shattered an Elting Pool record during a meet against SUNY Oneonta on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Suzuka achieved a time of 57.66 seconds in the 100 backstroke. She not only broke a record, but also nabbed an NCAA “B” qualifying standing, which she previously earned for her performance earlier this season at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Winter Championships. The previous record was set by Michelle Coombs in 2008 with a time of 59.45.
Suzuka was overjoyed when she first realized her time qualified for the new pool record.
“I was tired first. I was hoping I’d get 58 or 59 or close to the record, but when I got 57… I got so happy – splashing up and down, like a child,” she said. “I got my record on the board. It’s like the most exciting thing. I never had that in my swim club or even my high school, but when I got my name on [the Elting pool board], I got really happy.”
Suzuka began swimming when she was four years old. She was frequently sick as a child, similar to her mother, who made her swim in order to build her strength. Suzuka swam every day to regain her health and power, which enabled her to go to school.
Women’s Swimming Head Coach Scott Whitbeck said he is very proud of Suzuka’s overall performance not only this year, but prior seasons as well.
“Yuka’s been our best swimmer for a couple years on this team, I mean, she’s had a great season,” Whitbeck said. “She was an all-American last year, conference swimmer of the year, set school conference records in a number of events.”
In terms of this season, Whitbeck said Suzuka has taken even more steps to become a top SUNYAC swimmer. She was a top 8 finisher for the 200 back in the national championships and has been able to improve her race times during practice.
The swim team won their final meet this Saturday in the Skidmore Sprint Invitational at Skidmore College. Suzuka and the team are setting their sights on the SUNYAC Championships, which runs from Feb. 21 to 23 in Buffalo.
“For SUNYACs, I’m like really focused on 100 back, 200 back, 200 IM,” she said. “I won all those events last year, but I cannot be like, ‘oh, I’m going to win again’ because I know there’s so many swimmers that work so hard.”
Whitbeck is also optimistic of the team’s ability to continue their success into the SUNYAC Championships.
“We’ve had the fortune of having not only great top-end swimmers; in addition our depth in our freshmen class is phenomenal this year,” Whitbeck said. “I think we’re a team that’s in a position to compete with some of the best teams, hopefully in contention for a conference title.”
Suzuka also believes the team is a strong contender for the SUNYAC Swimming and Diving Championships and wants to end her senior year with a victory.
“I think we have a chance to win a SUNYAC champion and that would be really, really, really awesome,” Suzuka said. “If we win that, that would be like, the best senior memory ever.”