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athlete of the week

Athlete of the week: Ben Hsiung ʼ18

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The Swarthmore men’s swim team wrapped up their dual meet conference season on Saturday with a 121-83 win against Dickinson College. The Garnet finished 6-0 against Centennial Conference opponents, and won their first regular season conference title since 2007. Crucial in the victory was Ben Hsiung ʼ18. The senior leader from Pittsburgh, Pa. won the 200 freestyle in a close finish, out-touching his opponent by 0.14 seconds. The Garnet host their final home meet this Saturday at Ware Pool and then will race into the Centennial Conference Championships the following weekend at Franklin and Marshall College.

Jack Corkery: What is your major, and what made you decide to pursue it?

Ben Hsiung: I’m a chemistry major.  I initially only took chem classes for pre-med requirements, but liked Orgo 1 and loved Orgo 2 because of Professor Paley. I really enjoy how complicated molecules can be produced through a series of logical, and at times elegant, steps.  

JC: What made you decide to attend Swat?

BH: I decided to attend Swarthmore because I knew I could pursue my academic ambitions fully while being a swimmer as well. During my recruiting visit, the close bonds between the swimmers on the team made a deep impression on me, and I was impressed by the support they provided for one another.

JC: What is your favorite event, and why?

BH: My favorite event is the 50 free. I’m not particularly good at it and until this year was never allowed to swim it because there are other events I’m better at, which may be why I like it so much. The 50 is my favorite because it is short and relatively painless. I normally swim 100s and 200s after which I feel nauseous, but the 50 is great because you feel fine after.

JC: How was the winter break training trip?

BH: The training trip was a lot of fun. It was great getting to spend time with teammates just training and not having to worry about school. It was a great opportunity to bond with the team, especially the freshmen I don’t know as well. It was very beneficial in terms of training, since we all put a lot of work in, and the team definitely got stronger and faster from it.

JC: What are your personal and team goals for the remainder of the season?

BH: The team goal is the same it is every year, to beat Gettysburg and win conferences. On a personal level, I hope to go best times in the 100 and 200 back, since I haven’t gone best times in those events since freshman year.


Athlete of the week: Audra Woodside ʼ19

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Audra Woodside ʼ19, a forward from Woodstown, NJ. has had a standout season so far for the Garnet women’s basketball team. Although the team has struggled to put up points, Woodside has been a bright spot, averaging 9.3 points per game — a team and personal high. She has had standout games against Washington College and Ursinus, scoring a personal high of 16 points in the former and securing 11 rebounds in the latter. The Garnet hope to finish their season strong, and take on Bryn Mawr College tonight at the Tarble Pavilion.

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what are your plans following graduation at Swarthmore?

Audra Woodside: I am a double major in chemistry and religion. After I graduate from Swarthmore next year I plan to find a job in some part of the chemical industry. Right now I am interested in cosmetic chemistry, but I am looking forward to exploring various options.

PP: What got you into basketball as a kid?

AW: Playing basketball runs in my family. Two of my grandparents played when they were younger, both of my parents played in high school, and a few of my cousins also played. I grew up going to the high school games of my older cousins and I remember watching them, thinking that one day I was going to be just like them. I loved playing in high school and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to continuing playing in college.

PP: What have been some of the highlights from this season?

AW: I think one of the main highlights for the team this season was the Haverford game. Even though we ended up losing, we played a great three quarters of basketball. It was one time where everyone was in the flow of the game and we were able to come together and play a great game. We were also missing five of our players at that game, which I think made even more impressive that we performed how we did.

PP: Describe what it is like being the leading scorer for the team so far.

AW: My teammates have a lot to do with me being the leading scorer right now. As a post player, some of my points rely on the contribution from my guards. One of my teammates has the ability to know when I’m open even before I do. Also, my fellow post players are amazing. Not only can I trust them to rebound my miss shots, or make an amazing move when I pass the ball to them, but also they are an outstanding support system. They help me with things I need to improve on throughout the games and always help me keep my head together. Basketball is a game of five people working towards one goal and I am really lucky to have teammates who trust me.

PP: What are the greatest challenges in being a student athlete?

AW: Being a student athlete comes with its trials, but also its rewards. Playing a sport is like taking an additional double credit seminar at Swarthmore, and I do not think many people realize the dedication and time commitment it takes. Coach DeVarney states that in addition to our academic classes we also take “basketball class,” and basketball class takes not only physical effort but also a significant amount of mental focus and concentration. Although it sounds cliché I honestly think that the biggest challenges are time management and communication. As a student athlete you have to plan out your schedule weeks ahead and be able to communicate not only to your professors, lab instructors, and leaders of your other commitments but also your coaches and teammates; it requires a lot of planning and a decent amount of give and take.

PP: The team has struggled record wise. What are the coaches/players doing to try and finish the season strong?

AW: We are trying to approach each game one at a time and leave it all out on the court. Our goal for the next six games is to come together as a team and play with as much heart and intensity as possible.  

PP: If you could change one thing about Swarthmore, what would it be and why?

AW: If I could change one thing about Swarthmore it would be the pass/fail policy. I think it is great that we have the option to pass/fail four classes after our first year, but I think it would be better if we could uncover the grade after we decide to pass/fail if we choose. Sometimes we think we have to pass/fail a class because we performed badly on one test, but then are able to work it out by the end of the semester. I would like the opportunity to display that grade if I was happy with it.  

Athlete of the week: Scout Clark ʼ19

in Athlete of the Week/Sports/Winter/Women by

On Saturday, the Swarthmore swim teams had their first competition since returning from their winter training trip in Puerto Rico. The Garnet hosted Stevens Institute of Technology and Rowan University for a tri-meet. Scout Clark ʼ19 won the Centennial Conference Swimmer of the Week for her dominating performance, as she won both the 200 freestyle and the 400 individual medley, and also finished third in the 200 stroke. The Garnet return to competition on Feb. 3 with a home meet against rival Gettysburg.

Jack Corkery: What is your major, and what made you decide to pursue it?

Scout Clark: I am a double chemistry and computer science major. Since high school I have always been interested in chemistry, especially in bringing reactions that we learn in class to life in the lab. My sophomore year, I became interested in CS after my first class because I enjoyed coding and learning how simple languages can be used to construct complex programs and machinery.

JC: What made you decide to attend Swat?

SC: When I first visited Swat, I met most of the swim team, and after hearing about all of their classes/experiences and getting to know all of them, I knew I wanted to come here. Everyone was one big family and so willing to help one another out, both in practice and in school, and I realized I wanted to be a part of something like that in college.

JC: What is your favorite event, and why?

SC: My favorite event is the 200 individual medley. I love it because the race is constantly changing — you do a 50 of each stroke, all out, as fast as you can go. It’s also short and sweet compared to some of the other events I race as a distance swimmer!

JC: How was the winter break training trip?

SC: Training trip was super fun as always. Getting to be in sunny Puerto Rico with the whole team is great because there is so much team bonding, especially because we are living in such close quarters and going through intense training for 10 days. We had doubles most days, with our first practice starting at 6 a.m. and the afternoon practice consisting of swimming and dryland. Some of the highlights were our team breakfasts, going to the beach in between practices, and the boat trip during our day off!

JC: What are your personal and team goals for the remainder of the season?

SC: I plan to continue training hard for the remainder of the season and hope to get some best times and improve my placings at conferences from previous years. For the women’s team, we plan to beat Gettysburg in our meet this weekend and to get at least second place at conferences. We have been swimming faster than we ever have this season, and I am so excited to see what we can do at conferences!

Athlete of the week: Charles Yang ʼ19

in Athlete of the Week/Sports by

Charles Yang, a junior standout hailing from Naperville, Illi. has started off the 2017-18 Men’s Swim season hot. Yang primarily focuses on the 100-yard freestyle, 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard backstroke, and the 50-yard backstroke for his events. In a recent Dec. 2 meet against Ursinus College, Yang finished first overall in the 50-yard freestyle, with an impressive time of 21.86 seconds, just 0.13 seconds off of his personal best in that event. The men’s team is currently 4-0 and seems to be on track to try and repeat as Centennial Conference champions. The team is back in action at West Chester University on Dec. 8.

Ping Promrat: What is your intended major, and what motivated you to pursue it?

Charles Yang: I am a math major and a psychology minor. It is kind of nerdy, but I’m really interested in math. I think it’s extremely applicable to a lot of different professional fields, which is nice for someone like me, who is not completely sure what he wants to do. I’ll be done with my math major after this semester, which is really nice.

PP: What got you into swimming as a kid? What inspired you to pursue swimming at Swarthmore?

CY: My parents forced me to do swimming. I hated it, and it sucked when I started. To be honest, it really is a grind all the time. I was really lucky to be recruited by a school like Swarthmore, and although it might be hard, I absolutely love my team, so I’m glad I stuck with it.

PP: What is your favorite and least favorite part about being a student athlete?

CY: Being a student-athlete at Swarthmore is really about balancing the time you spend on your respective sport with the time you spend on the academics here. While it’s tough, and I’m always really tired, I hope that participating in a sport at the collegiate level will pay off in terms of life experiences.

PP: What are your personal goals and goals for the team for this year?

CY: Personally, I hope to make nationals in my events. As a team, I hope we get two relays to nationals. This would mean we would send at least eight people to nationals, which would be fantastic. We are currently ranked in the top 20 in the nation. We just made it into the top 16 for relays, so it is very possible.

PP: What is your favorite swim team tradition?

CY: We do a cheer before every single meet, regardless if it is a home meet or an away meet. When we are at home, it goes something like this: “Whose house is it? This is our house. We must protect this house.”

PP: If you could change one thing about Swarthmore, what would it be and why?

CY: I don’t know who I am to say what things should or shouldn’t be changed about Swarthmore, but something I think that really bothers me is the disconnect between the student-athlete and non-athlete population. I wish there were more respect for the athletic community, and the time and commitment that I know that I put into my sport.

Athlete of the week: Conor Harkins ’21

in Athlete of the Week/Sports by

The Men’s Basketball team started off this season hot, with a high-scoring 111-89 win over Hood College. Freshman Guard Conor Harkins from Greenwich, Conn. made a big arrival on to the collegiate basketball scene in his first career game, sinking nine three-point shots and scoring 27 points to lead the Garnet in scoring. The Garnet are now 4-0 and ranked 12th nationally, and will play their conference home opener tonight against Muhlenberg College in Tarble Pavilion.

Jack Corkery: What is your intended major, and what made you choose it?

Conor Harkins: I’m not entirely sure yet, but I am leaning towards majoring in economics. I have always been interested in the areas of business and finance and feel that an economics major would best capture that together.

JC: How did you decide to attend Swarthmore College?

CH: There were a lot of factors that went into making me choose Swarthmore. The biggest thing that I saw in Swarthmore were the endless opportunities. Between the top-notch academics and a talented basketball team, Swarthmore seemed like the perfect fit for me. Additionally, on my visits here all of the players and coaches and even other students I met were all nice and fun to hang out with. It was also a great location, being just over two hours away from where I live so not too far but far enough that I didn’t feel like I was still at home.

JC: How has the adjustment to college life been athletically and academically?

CH: At first it was a big adjustment trying to find the right balance and way to manage my time. I think what helped me and I’m sure the rest of the freshmen a lot was the fact that our first semester here is pass/fail. This made the workload seem a little less stressful, and allowed for me to figure out how to schedule my time between sports, academics, and sleep. As for basketball, it is similar to how I thought it was going to be work-wise. It is obviously more serious and takes up more time than high school sports, but it is something I love and am passionate about so it doesn’t seem like a hassle to me. By this point I would say I am pretty settled in and have gotten used to college life, but the biggest difference was just trying to figure out how to effectively use my time.

JC: What was it like sinking 9 threes and scoring 27 points in your first collegiate game?

CH: Going into the game I was definitely a little nervous, but I was also really excited. Scoring 27 points in that first game still feels surreal to me, but it felt great just to simply help the team get a win in the first game of the year. To hit nine threes in my first collegiate game is definitely something I’ll remember for a very long time, and it was a pretty special moment to have both of my parents there for it as well.

JC: Do you have any personal or team goals for the remainder of the season?

CH: Our team goal is to simply be the best we can be everyday. We talked about at the beginning of the year being a top team in the Centennial Conference and even the nation, but Coach Landry does a great job of keeping all of us focused on the next practice or next game, rather than a season-long goal.


Athlete of the week: Mayank Agrawal ’18

in Athlete of the Week/Fall/Men/Sports by

Mayank Agrawal ’18, hailing from Sugarland, Texas, has contributed immensely to the Swarthmore Men’s Cross Country team throughout his four years with the program. Agrawal finished 24th overall in the Centennial Conference Championships this past Saturday, leading the Garnet to a fifth-place finish. Agrawal’s stellar performances were not limited to the Conference Championships: notable highlights throughout his senior season include a 17th place overall finish at the Bryn Mawr Invitational, and a 21st place finish at the Paul Short White. Agrawal and the team will prepare for their final meet, the NCAA regionals, on Nov. 11.

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what inspired you to pursue it?

Mayank Agrawal: I am a double major in computer science and philosophy. In high school, math was my thing, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do a full math major, nor have the science chops to do an engineering major. Computer science seemed like a great hybrid of the two, even though I had no computer science background coming into Swarthmore. I became interested in philosophy during my freshman spring after taking Introduction to Philosophy with Professor Thomason. There’s actually a very large overlap between philosophy, and math and computer science, believe it or not.

PP: What do you want to do after you graduate from Swarthmore?

MA: Ideally, I plan on going to graduate school to study cognitive science. I want to better understand how the mind works, while using computational frameworks to try and answer those questions.

PP: How have you balanced the opportunities you’ve been able to pursue outside of the classroom with competing and staying fit for cross country?

MA: There’s no perfect magic formula to it, but I’ve had to figure out how to allocate my time to pursue what’s important to me. Having such a big time commitment for practice in the day forces you to plan efficiently. I actually think participating in a sport has allowed me to be much more efficient and get more work done, because I think I’m much more aware as to how valuable my time is.

PP: As you reflect on your career at Swarthmore, what was the most rewarding athletic experience for you?

MA: During my sophomore spring, I ran the 10k at the Outdoor Conferences. I wasn’t expected to place (the top eight place), and it was my first time running this distance. As the race went on, I kept on picking people off, and I ended up snagging 8th place and placing, which was a complete shock to me. The race was on a Friday night, and most of my teammates who were coming to Conferences weren’t there yet. However, when I got back, I found out that the whole team was watching the livestream in Sharples. To have such a huge athletic achievement, while having teammates watching and cheering me on from afar was one of my most memorable experiences at Swarthmore.

PP: What got you into running as a sport as a child?

MA: One weekend during my sophomore year of high school I was really bored, so I decided to go for a run. It was the most painful experience of my life, but I actually enjoyed it! At the beginning, I couldn’t even run a mile. However, I began to run every weekend, and then every day, and then eventually joined the track team at my high school.

PP: If you could change one thing about Swarthmore, what would it be and why?

MA: I think in regular discourse at Swarthmore, particularly outside the classroom setting, we need to get better at evaluating people on their justification for their views. Sometimes, myself included, we are quick to label people who have different views than us, and I hope that Swatties can continue to aspire to be more open-minded.

Athlete of the week: Sophia Stills ’21

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Last week, the Swarthmore Women’s Soccer team continued to build on a successful 2017 season, with two big conference wins against Bryn Mawr and Gettysburg. Crucial in the two wins was forward Sophia Stills 21 of Los Angeles, California, who scored in both games coming off the bench.  The Garnet have clinched a playoff spot and currently sit in second place in the Centennial Conference standings. They will play one more game at Haverford this Saturday before the playoffs begin.

Jack Corkery: What is your intended major, and what made you choose to study it?

Sophia Stills: I am interested in history and peace and conflict studies. Ever since high school, I have been very interested in history, and I had decided then that I was going to probably major in it once I got to college. Peace and conflict studies is something that I really didn’t know much about before coming to Swarthmore. But on the first day of classes, I was introduced to the subject and I gained a keen interest in the topic.

JC: What made you decide to attend Swarthmore?

SS: A variety of reasons. I think I am very lucky because Swarthmore is a place I can thrive academically, socially, and also it was a good fit with soccer. When I came here for a visit and took my tour, the classic “Swarthmore Student” sounded like a person very similar to myself, which made me realize I wanted to come here.

JC: How difficult has the adjustment to college academics and athletics been for you?

SS: The transition was made a lot easier by the fact I had the soccer team behind me. It was great to have a group of people to go to when you needed help with all the new stuff going on, like new professors, new environment, and new side of the country. Also, the social aspect of making friends was made much easier by having the soccer team.

JC: How does the team feel about moving into the NCAA regional rankings?

SS: I actually am not really sure where we are ranked. As a team, we try not to check the rankings and get caught up in where we are, so we can stay focused on the next team we play.

JC: Do you have any goals for the remainder of the season?

SS: Personally, my biggest goal is to fill whatever role the team needs me in, whether it is on the field or being a supportive teammate. I think if we continue to focus on being our personal best, our team will continue to have success.

Athlete of the Week: Mehra den Braven ’20

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Volleyball standout Mehra den Braven ’20 has thrived so far in her second year on the team. An outside hitter hailing from Santa Clara, Calif., den Braven has captured All-Tournament honors for the second straight weekend, as the Garnet have extended their record to 13-5 overall and remain undefeated at home. Den Braven has 218 points recorded throughout the season so far, with highs of 27 digs against Stockton University and 17 kills against Eastern University. The Garnet return to action Oct. 12 with an away match against Rowan University, and again on Oct. 14 in a rematch of last season’s Centennial Conference Championship at Johns Hopkins.

Ping Promrat: What is your intended major, and what motivated you to pursue it?

Mehra den Braven: I don’t know my intended major for sure, as I’m still trying to find my niche. Right now, it looks like it will be political science and economics, and maybe sociology or peace and conflict studies mixed in there.

PP: What got you into volleyball as a kid? How did you find out about volleyball at Swat?

MDB: My parents forced me to go these club tryouts. I got on the best team because I was tall, not because I was good! However, that’s really where I fell in love with the game, as I was surrounded by players who were much better than me. I was recruited by Swat over a two-year process, as I met Cecily Scavicchio [the old assistant coach] at an academic camp. As I got to know her and Harleigh Chwastyk [the head coach] is when I started to fall in love with Swarthmore

PP: What is your favorite part of being a student athlete?

MDB: My favorite part is the connections you make as a team. It made the transition to college for me so much easier, as I had many friends who struggled with that. I can always text anyone to meet up for lunch, and all the girls on the team make life so much more enjoyable!

PP: You were named to the All-Tournament Team at the Garnet Quad Tournament last weekend for the second weekend in a row. What is it like to have that type of personal success as a sophomore?

MDB: I always want to be better, so the ideal would be MVP of the tournament! However, I never expect any awards or anything, so I just focus on playing my game. At the same time, it is a balance between appreciating where you are and wanting to get better.

PP: Have you been participating in the kneeling protest during the national anthem? If so, what inspires you to take part in it?

MDB: I have been participating in the kneeling protest and showing solidarity. I’ve been so inspired by Lelosa [Aimufua ‘20] and Emma [Morgan-Bennett ‘20]’s motivation and strength in pursuing this, and how they’ve really thought about why they’re doing what they’re doing. However, it is really complicated still even within the team. Some people see the kneeling as disrespectful to our military, but for others, the kneeling is not meant to have that effect at all. I just hope people understand that at the end of the day, it is a peaceful protest that is focused on bringing attention to certain issues in our country that have been neglected.

PP: What are your athletic goals for the team, and yourself for the rest of the season?

MDB: The broadest goal for us would be winning the Conference Championships, especially after coming so close against Johns Hopkins last year. I want us to show a little more strength, swagger, and fierceness, and if we can keep building towards that, the success will continue to come.

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