For freshman Brandon Leu, early mornings hold some of his favorite Chapman memories.
Leu, a business administration major and Chapman swimmer, said despite the chilly weather and the seemingly freezing pool, 6 a.m. swim practices have created an irreplaceable bond with his teammates.
Prior to joining a club team in high school, Leu said he only focused on his individual swimming skills. He put pressure on his performance, but wasn’t pushed to consider the team. At Chapman, this changed.
“I started realizing that it was more of a team sport than an individual sport. When I was younger, it was really just my own races,” Leu said. “I was really just competing for myself.”
Before Leu attended Chapman, he swam for Issaquah High School as well as the Bellevue Club Team in Bellevue, Washington during high school.
Recently, Leu won the 200-yard freestyle event on Jan. 26 at the last home meet of the season against Biola University. He also fourth placed in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard freestyle relay.
“That was one of the moments where I was like, ‘Wow, I can actually really make an impact.’” Leu said.
Around the same time he began swimming, Leu also played other sports. But during his teenage years, swimming became his main focus.
“Swimming is one of my favorite sports. It’s very unique and very different,” Leu said. “As humans, we’re not really meant to be in the water, but that’s cool — how you’re able to adapt and be able to swim.”
Nervous to come to Chapman, Leu has found comfort in his team.
“The energy is always there no matter what the weather’s like,” said freshman swimmer Omar Insignares. “He always keeps everyone pumped up.”
Head coach Dennis Ploessel said Leu’s work ethic is rare for a freshman.
“Day after day after day, he’s leading the charge out there as a freshman. He’s never had a bad swim race his entire season,” Ploessel said.
As Leu begins to win races in the pool, he knows that teamwork has replaced his focus on individuality.
“We have each other’s backs. (The team is) very supportive, they want you to be on the team,” Leu said. “They’re amazing.”