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NYUAD Sophomore Swims the Mina Mile

At 5:45am on a recent November morning I sleepily departed Sama Tower and made my way to the Dubai Marina. The first competitive swim opportunity of the year had finally arrived, and this was my chance to put my months of training to the test. The event was the Zoggs Mina Mile, a multi-date race series offering 400m, 800m, and 1 mile distances. I went all the way for the mile, my first open-water swim of that length.

Before I came to NYUAD, I had never swum competitively or thoroughly worked on my swimming technique. During my first fall semester, I was excited to enroll in the swimming physical education course, which restored me to proper form in the water. I enjoyed it so much that in the spring I took on swimming again as an independent study for PE credit. Training with my coach was, and continues to be, a joy each week as I see myself improving in technique and time.

I’m grateful for the new passion I’ve discovered here at NYUAD and the support Athletics has given me to pursue it.

Olivia Bergen, NYUAD Class of 2015

My efforts first led toward a swim leg of the Yas Triathlon in April. I swam the 750m sprint, but was already eager to try longer distances. Before I knew it, I was back in the open water for this 1 mile challenge. The Gulf was salty and wavy and in the rush to make it out front everyone was kicking each other — in a word, it was wonderful. Though I had been training in the pool twice a week since September, pool time could only take me so far. The sighting and distance judging required for open-water swimming added another dimension of physical difficulty to the already long distance.

Swimming these endurance courses is challenging, yet also a great release. It is really meditative to spend a long time in the water, rhythmically breathing and completing the same motion over and over. You notice how small changes in your stroke affect the way you move through the water, and you celebrate your arrival at distance markers along the way.

I’m grateful for the new passion I’ve discovered here at NYUAD and the support Athletics has given me to pursue it. My next goal is to swim a 5k in the pool. I’m sure as I continue to train, I’ll be there very soon.