For Penn swimmer Mark Andrew, this question is taking on a new meaning. As Andrew approaches the Ivy League Championships and beyond, the senior has been berated with this question by friends, family, and teammates.
For most collegiate swimmers, senior year marks the end of their swimming careers. But for Andrew, things might just be getting started, as he has a serious shot at one day making the United States Olympic team.
Andrew's career started before he can even remember.
“The story my dad always told me is that before I could even walk, he would take me to [the YMCA] and would just kind of toss me in the pool and I would just paddle back,” Andrew said. “It would scare all of the old ladies that were there because they thought I was way too young to be swimming.”
When he was six, Andrew joined his first year-round swimming team, following in his parents' footsteps.
“[My interest started] because my dad swam for Williams and my mom did too — she was kind of a casual member of the team there,” Andrew said.
Andrew found success throughout his entire career. A three-time All-American at Middletown High School in Ohio, Andrew led his team to back-to-back conference championships in 2014-15 and a state championship in 2015.
Outside of swimming, Andrew’s favorite pastime is playing Super Smash Bros. with his teammates, and he is also a member of Friars Senior Society.
In his final season at Penn, the Quakers finished the regular season on a two-game winning streak thanks in large part to Andrew. He has won five different individual events this year, most recently in the 100-yard backstroke in the team's final regular season meet against West Chester. Andrew’s Olympic aspirations started the summer after his junior year when he received his first trial cut by two tenths of a second. He then received another cut the summer after.
He believes his best chance at a spot on the Olympic team will be in the 400 individual medley. Andrew holds Ivy League records in both the 200 and 400 IM with times of 1:43.24 and 3:31.89, respectively. Andrew also placed first in the 400 IM at the 2015 Junior National Championships.
As his career as a Quaker comes to a close, Andrew has been stuck in a difficult position, having to split his time between a job search and Olympic training.
“Most Ivy students go and get an internship every summer, and I spent my first summer here training and the next summer with my old coach from home," Andrew said. "You definitely feel left out of that Penn — everybody trying to get a job or a summer abroad."
Despite this decision, Andrew will still be trying out for the Olympics this upcoming spring.
“I’m going to try to get my cut for 2020 this spring. I accepted a job for next year, so I’m not really going to be training very seriously for it, but I’m going to go to see everyone and go again,” Andrew said. “It’s probably not a very realistic goal at this point.”
Whether Andrew has what it takes to make the Olympic team is yet to be seen. He will look to finish the season strong and continue leaving a positive legacy at Penn.
“I’m trying to make it back to the NCAAs this year. The goal this year is to make a final as a top-eight [finisher],” Andrew said. “We are trying to get a few relays to NCAAs this year as well.”
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