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In November, freshman Kristen Sun competed for her native Hong Kong in the Asian Championships.

Credit: Ananya Chandra , Ananya Chandra

Penn freshman Kristen Sun is swimming her heart out on both ends of the Pacific.

Sun represented Hong Kong, her home country, in the 2016 Asian Championships in Tokyo from Nov. 17-20 this year, swimming in two competitions.

In the 50-meter breaststroke, she finished in tenth place with a time of 34.14 seconds while taking 12th in the 200 breast with a time of 2:44.84.

“Overall, I think it was a wonderful experience because I got to swim and meet a lot of Olympic swimmers, and a few of them were actually Olympic medalists as well,” she said. “So, I think I was able to learn a lot at the competition.”

Sun already had previous experience in international competition, formerly swimming for Hong Kong at the first National Youth Games.

“At the youth games, I was with a lot of swimmers of my age. But at the Asian Championships, I was with a lot of the Hong Kong swimmers who are full time swimmers, some of them were in the Olympics, and some of them went to the states for university,” Sun added.

Sun took full advantage of the opportunity to meet and interact with swimmers who have faced similar athletic and cultural changes of moving to the United States to swim as a student. She received advice from Hong Kong swimmers from universities such as the UC-Berkeley and the University of Michigan.

“I was able to learn a lot from the swimmers as well, because I was able to ask them about their experience in college.”

Sun is enjoying her time as a freshman swimmer at Penn, adjusting to a new training routine, teammates, and coaches.

“As a freshman, I really like the team. The team is really spirited, and really close as a team as well. The team is wonderful; there are a lot of positive vibes. Compared to the team in Hong Kong, I think that the swimmers here are a lot more positive about training,” Sun said.

She has looked to leadership and guidance from older swimmers.

“The captains are really positive about training. We have a set of team rules and one of them is, ‘No negative vibes in the pool.’... It really helped me get through training sometimes when it gets super hard,” Sun added.