Fencing…Other Sports are Pointless: An Interview with Anna Lanzman

An Interview with Anna Lanzman.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Anna Lanzman

Height: 5’6”

Hair Color: Dark Brown

Eye color: Hazel

DOB: 07/08/2001

Grade: Senior

How did you get into fencing?

Ever since I was a little girl, I played a lot of sports. When I was three, I started gymnastics, continuing for eight years. Toward the end, I started to lose interest in it and didn’t see a future in it for myself. This girl I did gymnastics with told me about her little brother who began fencing, and I tried it out after quitting gymnastics.

Do you fence outside of school?

I’m in a club called Fencers Club in Manhattan, and I train about 3-4 times per week. Practice usually ranges from about three to four hours.

What are your aspirations for yourself as a fencer and for the PSAL team, which plays in the spring?

Individually, I want to become the best fencer that I can. I definitely want to fence in college and reach my peak. In terms of school fencing, obviously, I hope that we keep on improving and that we can win championships.

Can you talk a little about the tournaments you do outside of school?

They’re called North American Cups (NACs for short). They are national tournaments that happen once each month for all ages, genders, and types of weapons.

What types of weapons are there?

There are three total weapons: foil, sabre, and epee. Each event has an average of 200 people; the different events are derived from different age groups and different weapons.

Since what age have you been competing in these cups?

I have been fencing since age 12 and began going to national tournaments at age 13, so four years.

Have you won any of these tournaments?

I went to one in October in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I took first place in this event called Division 1 classification for women’s epee. It was women of all ages (no age limit) and was a subsection of Division 1, around 40 people.

Are these cups the highest honor you can get being a fencer?

These are national tournaments, but there are also international tournaments (World Cups). I went to three of them junior year in Finland, France, and Austria. Those were really fun, and would be the next level up. After that, there are the world championships then the Olympics.

You seem to spend a lot of time at tournaments. How do you balance schoolwork and being a fencer?

In freshman year, it was really hard to adjust and balance schoolwork, studying, training, and tournaments because Stuy is such a rigorous school. But over time, as high school progressed, I got used to it. I definitely learned to manage my time much better, whether it was reading on the train home or finishing up essays on the plane rides back home from tournaments. It definitely gets easier, and some advice I’d give is that a large workload and serious dedication to a sport take time to get used to, but if you learn to manage your time and learn to keep your focus on just these two things, you’ll be able to better incorporate them into your schedule.

What’s one of your proudest moments that you had while fencing?

I’ve been fencing for years and I’ve had tournaments where I’ve done well (top 16 of 200), but I’ve never gotten a national medal or even stood on the podium. In the tournament I did recently, I was fencing that final bout (fencing term for match) on the stage and getting that last touch, and it hit me: “Wow, I just won my first national medal.”

How do you constantly try to improve yourself, whether through practice or your mentality?

After I come back from each tournament, I remember everything I did wrong during the tournament during practice, either things my coach told me to work on or things I would notice myself. When I’d practice, I’d keep these things in mind and definitely try to practice specific moves or just train hard. It’s not only physical, but also mental if you're not mentally prepared or focused. Sometimes, I try to imagine I’m at a tournament and try to control my stress level to train myself for future tournaments.

What will you miss most about the team at Stuy?

Fencing is an individual sport, and it is my first time being on a team at Stuyvesant, since other sports I did were all individual. I’ve never felt what it is like to have people cheering you on while competing, have people you can rely on; being on the team has taught me that there are people who can support you. That support really matters and gives you an extra push while competing. Being on a team is really fun.

Who is your biggest role model or inspiration?

My parents are my inspiration because I don’t only want to be good for myself, but for them too. They came to America from the Soviet Union and worked really hard to provide a good life for themselves and my brother and me. They gave me the opportunity to do fencing, and I want to prove to myself and them that I took advantage of this opportunity.

Choice drink: Water with electrolytes (Sports drinks are too sugary!)

Motto to live by: Keep working until you get what you want.

Fun fact: I played six sports when I was little: gymnastics, swimming, tennis, volleyball, ping pong, and fencing.