Zhen Teo Wins Athlete of the Year Award, Men’s Swimming & Diving, 2016

Zhen Teo Wins Athlete of the Year Award, Men’s Swimming & Diving, 2016

By Chase Maser

 Arriving from Singapore just last year, the 21-year-old phenom, Zhen Teo, has won the Athlete of the Year Award for Men's Swimming & Diving. "It feels great," says Teo. "The coaches told me halfway through the season that I was up for it, so I knew that I had some time to do better and really make it happen."
With the Men's season ending two weeks ago, the accomplishments of the team have left quite the impression on Teo, and he is excited about everything they've achieved throughout his Freshmen year. "We just had our Western State Conference Finals, and I did pretty well. I got two individual gold medals for the 100yd and 200yd freestyle. I broke the conference record for the 200yd freestyle; 1 minute and 38 seconds, and our team relay one gold for the 4x1 freestyle."

Teo's success, however, is not something out of the ordinary. Being a swimmer in Singapore, Teo is used to competing at a high level, and he even considers the intensity at the college level to be easier than what he's faced in the past. "In Singapore, we swim 50m, and in college we only swim 25m," says Teo. "I'm used to swimming longer distances. I was actually a distance swimmer in Singapore, and I was the national record holder for the 1500m freestyle, so coming here, I find the transition to be not that hard at all."

His academic transition hasn't had any negative effect on him either.

Based off of his strict academic history in Singapore, Teo has adjusted well to the expectations of his professors, and he even feels that he can relax a little bit, enjoying his overall experience even more. "I'm cooping really well right now. My GPA is a 4.0, and I'm pretty sure that I'll maintain that until I transfer. High school was way harder in Singapore. The standards were really high, and I was still practicing when I was on the national team there, so being at SMC is more or less the same commitment."
Although Teo is living in Los Angeles on his own, he still stays in close communication with his family overseas, and they are thrilled about his many awards. "They are very surprised, but also happy that I'm doing so well here, " says Teo. "They didn't expect me to swim because I took a break for a year before coming to SMC. My plan was originally to study and then transfer, but then I found out about the swimming team here, and Coach Brian Eskridge encouraged me to tryout. When I told my parents about the races I won and the records I broke, they were really happy."