DB swimmer competes in national event

Sophomore Michael Lee was selected to participate in the Arena Series Pro swimming events in Minnesota, finishing 24th in the 1500 freestyle.

Tess Guan , Asst. Web Editor

Hours of morning and after school practice have paid off for Diamond Bar High School sophomore Michael Lee. Last week, the varsity swimmer participated in this year’s Arena Pro Series swimming competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Lee, a long distance swimmer, competed in the 200, 400, and 1500 meter freestyle races. He set a personal record in the 200 race with the time of 1:59, which placed him in the Top 100 for the preliminary round.

Meanwhile, he finished his 400 preliminary race in 4:10 and his 1500 finals race in 16:16. Despite being the youngest swimmer in the 1500 race, Lee placed 24th out of 36 other swimmers.

“I feel pretty excited about the meet because of the tough competition that’s going to be there,” Lee said, before heading off to the competition.

The annual event attracts top swimmers from all across the nation. This year, Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin participated in the three day event, which started last week on Nov. 12.

“It motivates me because I know I have to work harder in order to beat all the people faster than I am,” Lee said, referring to competing with the top athletes.

Over the summer, Lee was able to meet the specific time standard, which made him eligible to compete in the Arena Pro Series in Minneapolis.

He has already participated in other high level swim competitions, including the North American Challenge Cup in Southern California, where he placed first in a team relay event, and the NASA competition in Florida, where he won second place in an 1500 meter event.

“[The competition] really opened my eyes to the swimmers of the nation and that they were so fast,” Lee said. “My teammates help me directly and I help them. We support each other when times get tough and losing helps because it keeps you fired up when you’re about to die in a set.”

Because of his asthma, Lee began swimming five years ago to help warm up his lungs, and has been swimming ever since. He spent three years on the Brea Aquatics team and is now swimming his second year for the La Mirada Armada team.

Lee wakes up early in the morning every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to practice. In addition, he participates in after school practices with his team.

Due to his achievements in swimming, Lee has been nominated and ranked twice as one of the top ten distance swimmers of his age group in the nation, and with the addition of his new record for the 200 race, he is currently the third fastest 200 meter swimmer in the U.S. in his age group.

Lee also holds the DBHS school’s record for fastest freestyle in the 500 yard swimming event, recording a time of 4:34.

“I like the fact that it’s both a team sport and an individual one and while you swim, you have all your thoughts and emotions to yourself,” Lee said.