International Swimmers Leading the Swimming and Diving Teams

by ALEXA SCHMIDT, Asst. A&E Editor

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at Manhattan College are almost halfway through their seasons. They’ve participated in weekly swim meets, either dual meets or inivationals, with a collective six team wins.

Individual performances are tracked and can be followed throughout a season in a sport like swimming and diving. A common trend with MC swimming is the solid performances of their international student-athletes on the team which includes Sarah Hamilton, Andre Van Huyssteen, Branden Deiss and Artur Polyak.

Hamilton is a freshman from Northland, New Zealand. So far this season she has finished first in the 200 freestyle, second in the 200 freestyle and 1000 freestyle, third in the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 500 freestyle (twice) and fourth in the 200 IM.

Huyssteen is a sophomore from Paarl, South Africa who picked up where he left off last season. So far this season he has already taken home gold in the 50 freestyle (three times), 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle (three times) and 100 Fly (twice).

Deiss is a freshman from Benoni, South Africa. So far he has finished first in the 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle (twice) and 1000 freestyle. He also had two second-place finishes apiece for the 500 and 1000 freestyles.

Finally to round out the four, is sophomore Polyak from Haifa, Israel. He has finished first in the 100 backstroke (four times), 200 backstroke (twice), and 200 Fly. He also had a second place finish in the 200 IM.

Diess and Hamilton are the two freshman of this group. Being freshmen, they have managed to balance practices, meets, workouts, classes and schoolwork while adjusting to life in New York City all for the first time.

These two engineering majors started swimming at a young age.

“It started when I was about 10 years old, and when I got to high school I started taking it more seriously,” Deiss said. “I joined a club and started training with the coach for seven years before coming here, so it all just grew. I didn’t say, ‘Okay I want to be a swimmer now.’ I did it for a little bit and then did it more and more.”

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(TOP LEFT) Sarah Hamilton, a freshman from Northland, New Zealand. (TOP RIGHT) Andre Van Huyssteen, a sophomore from Paarl, South Africa. (BOTTOM LEFT) Branden Deiss, a freshman from Benoni, South Africa. (BOTTOM RIGHT) Artur Polyak, a sophomore from Haifa, Israel. GOJASPERS / COURTESY

Hamilton’s location to water played a part in what she does collegiately right now.

“Theres’s beaches everywhere, and I used to surf when I was little, so I kind of just got used to swimming, like in the ocean. I’ve been doing it ever since I was little,” Hamilton said.

One of the main differences between MC and their home is that they have the opportunity to be student-athletes in college.

“At home, university is completely different, sports aren’t associated with colleges so it has to be on your own time through a club,” Hamilton said. “There’s no such thing as a student-athlete, which was kind of one of my big reasons for coming to Manhattan College. Coming here where it’s all integrated is pretty amazing.”

They both agree that the city is different than their home, especially with the changing seasons.

“It was an adjustment at first, especially coming from a more open environment, to more closed-in with the buildings, and the weather,” Deiss said. “That’s a bit different. But so far it’s going well, I’ve made some good friends.”

“I love it here. The swim team is amazing. I don’t get homesick because they’re like my family,” Hamilton added.

Deiss swims distance, freestyle and relay races, while Hamilton is testing a few events at the moment, including distance, freestyle, breaststroke and relays.

The team practices at Fieldston up the road, with mornings at 6:00 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. and nights from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., as well as midday lifts and dry land practices.

“It’s great training with people who also want to take something far and to see how well they can do, and to push each other and to build that relationship inside the pool as well as the classroom. It’s been great,” Deiss said.

Deiss noted that it’s more fun to swim with a couple of other teams and gain points, than swim against a large amount of teams. He also pointed out that swimming is based on teamwork.

“A lot of people think swimming is an individual sport, but if you train alone verus when you train with a team, you may not be talking with your team the whole time but you’re going through the same things, so you know what they’re going through and you see them pushing so it pushes you,” Deiss said.

He continued.

“Also outside of the team you’re always cheering for your team at meets or during the session. You see someone struggling, you encourage them more. If you see someone slacking you tell them to pick it up. You don’t get to speak as much as a field sport, but you’re still communicating and it’s still very much a team sport,” Deiss said.

“The team has done really well this year. Looking at results from last year there’s been a big improvement,” Hamilton said. “We have ECAC, East Coast Athletic Conference, so that’s going to be our first actual measure of time, so we’re really excited for that.”