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Senior Dan Chen solidified his spot as an All-SCC swimmer for the second-straight year on behalf of the Tigers this winter. (Photo courtesy of Dan Chen )
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Dan Chen got out to early start as a swimmer when his parents put him in the pool when he was just one year old. Ever since the first moment that Dan touched the water, it’s been a challenge to keep him out.
Dan recently completed an excellent career with the Hand boys’ swimming and diving team that saw him lead the Tigers as a senior this season. Dan capped off his final year with the program by turning in several impressive showings throughout the campaign.
“I started competitively swimming when I was eight years old,” says Dan. “I think my favorite aspect of the sport is just seeing everyone improve their times and make it into championship meets.”
Dan is no stranger to competing in championship meets. Dan, who specializes in the backstroke, was the top seed in both the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke heading into the Class M State Championship before the meet was canceled. He had also qualified to compete with his USA Swimming team, the Shoreline Aquatic Club, at the Eastern Zone Sectionals in Buffalo.
“It was very sad for all the athletes. Dan was seeded first, and his disappointment in how this season ended was emotional for him,” Tigers’ Head Coach Christina Forristall says. “Dan had goals of breaking a few school records, and he worked extremely hard to achieve those goals.”
Dan earned All-SCC, All-State, and All-Area honors for Hand in his junior year and then made All-SCC once again this winter. Dan took third place in the 100 backstroke by swimming a time of 54.52 seconds at the SCC Championship to garner All-Conference accolades in the event. He also finished sixth in the 200 IM with a season-best mark of 2:00.36, while helping the Tigers come in fourth place as a squad. Dan’s personal-best times are 23.72 in the 50 freestyle, 52.35 in the 100 freestyle, 1:59.45 for the 200 IM, and 4:55.24 in the 500 freestyle.
Coach Forristall says that “it’s been amazing watching Dan grow in confidence as an athlete and a person over these past four years.” Dan, in turn, says that working with Forristall has not only improved his performance in the pool, but also helped him come out of his shell as a young adult.
“I’ve known Christina since I started swimming, and she coaches me during club, so we have a good relationship. She’s helped me get out of my comfort zone, and I enjoy being around her and the team,” Dan says. “In practice, I really focus on improving my technique and getting into better shape as the season progresses. By the time of the end of the season comes around, I’m peaking, and my times are all at their best.”
Coach Forristall describes Dan as a selfless leader. Forristall says that Dan let his actions do the talking when it came to guiding the Tigers on the deck.
“Dan doesn’t like to get all the attention. He likes to get his teammates involved as much as possible. However, his team loves to make him the center of attention, forcing him out of his comfort zone,” says Forristall. “While Dan is not the captain of the team, he is looked at as a leader with his work ethic and ability to quietly motivate his teammates.”
Even with all of his accomplishments, Dan’s favorite moment of the recent season came during a team-bonding session. Dan loved having fun alongside his fellow Tigers.
“My favorite memory was when we all got together to play laser tag, and Ryan Harvey was basically screaming and running around the entire time,” says Dan. “It was so much fun, and we all had a great time. I think that made us closer as a team.”
Dan stays busy when he isn’t in the water. In addition to swimming, Dan also plays piano and is a member of the Boy Scouts.
“I really enjoy playing piano in my spare time, and I’m in the middle of finishing up my eagle project for Boy Scouts right now,” Dan says. “I like to keep myself occupied outside of swimming and school, and those are two things that really make me happy.”
Dan is an honors student at Hand who brings the same work ethic to the classroom as he does the pool. Dan has plans on swimming in college after he graduates from high school.
“School is obviously really important, and I make sure that my grades are good,” says Dan. “I eventually want to swim in college, so making sure my grades are high is imperative.”
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