Zach Guan ’24: swimming

February, 2024
Asya MorozovKatie QinDester Selby-Salazar

Stroke after stroke, breath after breath, Zach Guan ’24 glides through the pool. His legs kick up and down consistently, propelling the rest of his body further into the water. For Guan, this is just another day.

Guan started to swim at the early age of seven. Although his parents supported his swimming, they wanted him to focus more on classical music. Guan liked swimming more, however, and chose to stick with the sport.

“I grew up in a very musical family ... my dad always played classical music on the radio. So [my family] wanted me to go into music ... but I really fell in love with swimming,” Guan said.

Guan frequently placed in the top three swim times in his individual meets in elementary and middle school, but gained a deeper appreciation for swimming after joining the high school team and becoming a part of its dynamic.

“When we won our first county meet ... It’s the first team experience [I had] where we won. I felt [awesome],” Guan said.

Guan’s talent, built up from years of individual practice, isn’t just limited to one kind of swim style. According to head boys swimming coach Carly Misiewicz, this makes him an invaluable asset to the team.

“[Zach is] very versatile, whether it’s freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, any distance,” said Misiewicz. “He can swim a variety of events, and he can be successful in any event that he does.”

Guan may be an excellent swimmer and leader in the pool, but he also plays a key role in leading his teammates and building team chemistry, something that his teammate of three years, David Brophy ’25, has noticed.

“I love being on the team with him. He’s a really good team player and he always tries his best,” Brophy said.

Guan loves his team’s dynamic and enthusiastically participates in team rituals, like the team chant and going to hang out at each others’ houses. He particularly admires how every member of his team supports the others, and how everyone does their best because they don’t want to let the team down.

“I’ve known these people for years,” said Guan. “When you’re swimming with people every day, around six days a week in a pool for two hours each time, it’s hard not to have an unbreakable bond.”

The boys swim team has had a remarkable winning season, with every player improving their individual skills and the team growing as a whole. Guan himself has consistently placed in the top three during meets and is proud of how far his team has come, seeing their victories as proof of their dedication and hard work.

“[We’re] representing [our] whole school,” said Guan. “[We have] the banner at the pool, and recently we’ve gotten a record. So our names [being] immortalized on the walls of the pool is pretty amazing.”

These victories are even more impressive considering the difficulty of swimming itself, a demanding sport based on precision, coordination, and technique. Although the PHS boys swim team has been undefeated for years, Guan makes sure to remind his teammates that they can push themselves further and should never rest on their laurels.

“You’ve got to always be on your toes. Always be ready, because there [will be] somebody who’s gonna drop five seconds somehow. You can’t just go in [thinking], ‘Oh, this is gonna be easy.’ You’ve got to be ready to swim your hide out every race no matter what,” Guan said.

Another aspect of Guan’s character that stands out is his attitude. He never seems to run out of steam or stop practicing, no matter how well his team is doing, making him a great role model for his teammates.

“He’s always trying his hardest on the relays. And, especially when we have meets early in the morning, he still has a lot of energy and he always brings a good energy [with him],” Brophy said.

Although Guan has certainly had a positive influence on his team, he has learned just as many lessons from his teammates, whom he will certainly keep in touch with after he graduates from PHS. For Misiewicz, Guan is someone who puts his trust in the team, and has gained the same trust from them.

“He’s very involved and outspoken in a very positive way,” said Misiewicz. “He’s someone who I can go to in a moment where I need to relay a message. And I know that he’ll relay that message in a positive way.”

In his time on the swim team, he has learned the value of improvement as an individual and as a team, and he hopes the next generation of PHS swimmers will have as much of a positive experience as he has. Guan will treasure everything he has learned from his team and take it with him into his adult life.

“When you’re feeling down or feeling blue, [your] teammates will help you,” said Guan. “Every time you’re swimming ... you’re racing yourself as well as the other people. You [race] to help [yourself grow].”