The Deep End with Kai and Sasha

Kai YamamotoGrade: Senior Height: 5’ 9 1/2Eye color: Dark BrownHair color: BrownDOB: August 1, 2002Sasha CamaevGrade: SeniorHeight: 5’11 1/2Eye color: Dark BrownHair color: Dirty BlondeDOB:...

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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By Erin Lee

Kai Yamamoto
Height: 5’ 9 1/2
Eye color: Dark Brown
Hair color: Brown
DOB: August 1, 2002

Sasha Camaev
Height: 5’11 1/2
Eye color: Dark Brown
Hair color: Dirty Blonde
DOB: December 8, 2002

1. When did you start swimming?

SC: Age seven. KY: Yeah age seven—that’s when I started swimming competitively. We both swim outside of school as well.

2. What are your goals this season for the team?

SC: The main team goal is of course to win the City Championships and maintain our streak by boosting our work performance this year, extending our training, and improving each swimmer’s individual technique and team mental attitude. We also want to make the States’ cut for the relay event as well. KY: Our number one focus is to win for the fourth consecutive year though; I think that’s the greatest accomplishment we could achieve.

3. Are there challenges from the start of the season the team faces?

KY: The majority of our team were seniors last year, and we essentially lost a big portion of the team.The people who actually got the points for us left, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge to go against Brooklyn Tech especially because they didn’t lose as many people as we did. We are going to have to train hard. SC: There’s also the fact that we have a new coach this year, Ms. Prabhu; our previous coach, Ms. Choi, had to retire. This is the third coach I've had on the swim team, and I have to say it is always a bit of an adjustment. It’s not as big of a factor as our seniors leaving, but it is a factor, and it is hard to get adjusted.

4. What race do you swim and why?

SC: I do the 200 free or the 50 free or the 100 free. I usually do two of each every meet. Those are my main events because I’m mainly a sprinter. I don’t do 500 free because I don’t have the stamina for it. KY: I do the 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly, and 100 breast. I do the 50 free and 100 free because I’m a sprinter, and breaststroke and fly are just my best events.

5. How has the swim team impacted your life at Stuyvesant?

SC: It’s definitely going to be something I’m going to remember the most. When I look back on my high school experience 10 years from now, it’s always the best time of the year for me. I literally made four of my closest friends in Stuyvesant on the swim team. It’s a big thing for me to train with them and motivate each other. KY: Like what Sasha said, I have met some of the closest friends I have at Stuy[vesant]. Not only that, but I was also able to meet people that I could rely on with my upperclassmen. When I was a freshman or sophomore, not only were there people my own age, but there were also people who could teach me and help me into Stuyvesant High School. The swim team definitely was the largest factor in that realm.

5. How has the captaincy changed your playstyle and outlook on the game?

SC: It’s too early in the season to tell exactly, but we are definitely going to have to set a good example for the team. We are going to have to be more committed to the team. I plan to come to practice every single day; I don’t know about Kai. It’s a big change for me because I’ve been a bit of a goofball for the past two years. Now I have to set up all the drylands; I have to motivate the team and I have to lead the warmups. KY: To be honest, I don’t really think that this position is going to change my outlook and how I approach swimming as a whole or how I’m a member of the team. I’ll continue to help advise the swimmers, as I have more experience, but I’ll definitely take more of a leadership role. Like Sasha said, I want to motivate the team or just to push them toward the right direction.

6. How do you deal with swimming and your schoolwork? Do you have any tips?

SC: Get your work done while you are in school, so you don’t have to worry about homework while you are swimming during practice. During my freshman year, a lot of the time when I was practicing, my head and mind were always on the work I had to do. That took away from my potential to improve. Later in the year, I always try to get my homework or whatever presentations and projects I have to prepare done during my lunch period. That way I can completely focus on my efforts at practice. KY: Yeah, I agree with Sasha; it’s all about time management. Especially for me, swimming with a club outside of school takes a large amount of my time. It’s kind of inevitable to stay up late and work on my homework; that’s just something you have to adjust do and deal with. Over the years, you just need to learn to manage your time in better ways, and you’ll do better.

7. Favorite memory or moment?

SC: Favorite memories are always whenever we win, but last year’s win was probably my favorite win. Last year was our most unexpected win; our best swimmer Nick [Wen, 19’] got injured during the last match. We had to reorganize the lineup, which had taken two months to prepare for. Not only was it a stressful situation but coming out with a victory when we literally had all the odds against us was probably my favorite memory so far—that team mindset that we shared. KY: As a team, I agree with Sasha; last year’s win was probably the happiest moment for me on the team. If I were to pick something else, I’d say breaking the 200 freestyle relay record at last year’s A Championship with three of the seniors. Just being able to accomplish that with three close friends of mine—to get the number one time for Stuyvesant of all time—is just a pretty big deal, and I was really happy that I was able to do so.

8. Something you are going to miss about the team?

SC: Probably the locker room shenanigans. Just talking with teammates and my friends after practice. Trying to plan out the schedule and trying to talk with my coach about how we are going to plan the layout for the rest of the season. Coming up with some sort of game strategy; that’s when my mind is really active, and I’m really engaged in it. During school, I’m kind of disengaged from classwork because I don’t really find it interesting. When I’m talking with my teammates about the season and what we need to do to overcome certain challenges, that’s the most stimulating moment for me. KY: I would just say the entire atmosphere of the varsity swimming and being part of the high school team. Swimming on a club team, I wouldn’t say that it is completely individual, but there’s more of a focus on individual times and individual swims. Ever since freshman year, you learn that high school swimming as a whole is swimming for each other because it’s a point-based system off the place you get in your races. If you have a bad race, it impacts how your team performs as a whole, so just the entire atmosphere of having people relying on you and you relying on people is something that I would really miss.

Drink of Choice:

>SC - Arizona sweet tea
>KY - Japanese sports drink, Pocari Sweat

Favorite food:

>SC - Quesadillas from Ferry’s
>KY - Chicken poi boy from Whole Foods

Motto to live by:

>SC - Fail fast, learn faster
>KY - Three years on a stone. It’s about if you sit on a stone for three years, it’ll eventually warm up. It’s about perseverance and sticking to something.

Fun fact:

>SC - I’m also on the golf team
>KY - My great grandfather was a translator in the war