by C. GARRETT KEIDEL, Editor
Freshmen Andre van Huyssteen is an International Business major from Paarl, South Africa on the Men’s Swimming and Diving team. He hopes to grow academically and athletically in his time at Manhattan College, along with becoming an involved member of the school community. Having success in his collegiate debut against Baruch College by winning the 200 IM with a time of 2:16.50, he hopes to continue this success throughout the remainder of the season.
The Quadrangle: How did you get into sports, swimming in particular?
Andre van Huyssteen: Well I am from a very athletic family. I have an older sister and a younger sister and both of my parents were athletes. My mom was a netball player and my dad was a rugby player. With my older sister, I would just follow her example, so whatever she did, I did as well. One day she started swimming, so just jumped in the pool as well and started swimming.
TQ: What has been your experience so far being a college athlete?
AvH: So far I have really enjoyed it. It’s so completely different, the facilities are amazing, the way the trainers help you, the coaches are really interested in you as a swimmer in trying to make you better. It’s completely different from college sports in South Africa where they mainly focus on academics, while here they try to make you a better athlete and student. So I’m really enjoying it because it is so different. They’re totally focused on you, the group you train with is amazing because we all have the same goal. You work for a team, usually I would consider swimming an individual spot like back in South Africa. Here it’s a team sport. Everyone has the same goal to do well for themselves but also for the school. The training has been quite different from what I’m used to, so it’s been more intense training and more lifting. It has been really good so far. I enjoy it, and the people are so nice.
TQ: What was it about Manhattan College that made you decide to come here?
AvH: Obviously everyone wants to come to New York, so that was like the goal. I didn’t think it was a reality or a possibility actually. Then I started talking to schools from Florida, Ohio, Texas, and then I got Manhattan College. I started to talking to Molly [Belk] and I really liked the way she explained the school, and the community. It’s not that big of a school, but everyone seems to know each other, like each other and get along. Plus it’s in New York which meant a lot to me to be in the big city. When I started to look more into the school, I got really interested in things like having basketball, lacrosse, which I had never heard of before, baseball and all these different sports. Everyone seems so happy and I really wanted that. I might have gone to a school where swimming is bigger but they don’t have that same sort of community and vibe.
TQ: What are some things you want to get out of being a Division I athlete?
AvH: If you asked me this question three years ago, I would’ve said I want to go to the Olympics. Now I’m much more realistic where I just want to be the best I can possibly be. I think I’m going to take these four years to do the best I can possibly do, and see how far I can possibly go with swimming. What’s the best I can do when I eat right, train hard, I don’t drink, I do all the right things, how far can I possibly go? And also to improve, to be on a team, to make connections, to meet new people, to see new places, that’s basically what I want to do with swimming.
TQ: What events do you specialize in when you swim?
AvH: I specialize in the IMs, so the 200 and 400 IM. Then also the 200 fly, those are my three main events.
TQ: Do you have a favorite swimmer?
AvH: I do have a favorite swimmer and his name is Chad le Clos. He beat Michael Phelps in the 200 butterfly at the 2012 Olympic Games. So I’m taking it back to South Africa. I also like another South African swimmer named Cameron van der Burgh. Those are my two favorite South African swimmers, and the American swimmers I like are Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.
TQ: Do you have a favorite swimming moment professionally and personally?
AvH: My favorite moment professionally while watching swimming is definitely during the 2012 Olympics in the 200 butterfly when Chad le Clos beat Michael Phelps. You should’ve seen the newspapers the next day. The whole of South Africa was invested. That was a time when swimming was on everyone’s minds, everyone knew about him. That’s what I aspired to be. And for personally swimming, we had senior nationals last year in Durban, South Africa and I raced the 200 butterfly final next to Chad le Clos. He beat me by 25 meters, but I still had the opportunity to race against him. He’s such a nice guy, so just to race against him made all the hard work pay off.
TQ: Do you have a nickname on the team?
AvH: Well I’m trying to get this nickname in, it hasn’t really worked. But I’m trying to make it Dre, kind of like Dr. Dre. Some of them started to call me that, it hasn’t completely caught on but I hope it does.
TQ: Do you have any goals you want to achieve academically and in competition?
AvH: I want to be an Academic All-American. My main focus by being here is academics first. I want to get a good job after this. I want to do well in my academics, so that is very important to me. At the same time I want to do well in my sport. If I can achieve a good combination of the two then I will be happy.
TQ: What are some things you are looking forward to doing here at Manhattan College?
AvH: In the city, I’d like to experience all the tourist things. After that I’d like to experience the normal New Yorker way of life. I’m getting a vibe of that from my teammates knowing how they live. At the school I want to get involved in different communities. I don’t want to be solely involved in the swimming community. I want to be involved with people who write for the newspaper, for example, or people interested in history or economics. I want to get to know different people because I believe you cannot just be involved with one group of people. You have to meet new people, get to know new people and learn how to cope with people who have different views as you or the same views as you. In the pool, I would like to be the best swimmer I can possibly be. Hopefully one day be team captain in my senior year. I also want to have good relationships with everyone and to help in getting new recruits like people from different countries. I think that me being here, I can give them insight on leaving your family and the life as you had known it behind to come to America. I want to be an example for other people.
TQ: Are there any things that you miss from South Africa that you wish you could bring here to the United States?
AvH: I do miss speaking Afrikaans, that’s the language that we speak. I try to teach my team some words. I have a word of the day where I try to teach them an Afrikaans word. I miss the language along with my family and food. I’m making the most of it while I’m here. I’m trying to not think about home too much and experience everything I can.
TQ: Do you have a message you’d like to say to the college community?
AvH: I just want to say thank you for being so nice to me. When I decided to come to New York everyone told me that people are so mean, no one talks to you, that they just look down on their phones and what not. But people have been so nice to me. They really try to make sure I know where to go, know what to do, if I don’t know what to do I can literally ask anyone a question and they’ll help me out. So I just want to thank everyone for being so nice and helping me out.