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In the pool and beyond

Kim brothers excel in swimming but have many more interests

Posted: July 23, 2008 11:38 p.m.
Updated: September 24, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Alex Kim

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Sure, every youngster hates getting dragged out of his bed for a morning practice at the crack of dawn. It makes it even worse when they have another workout practice in the evening.

But some kids go through more than just that just to know how it feels to get on a high school varsity swim team in their first year of competitive swimming.

From that group only a few of them know how it feels to have their names on the school's honor roll. They call them scholar-athletes.

But not just anyone can handle Advanced Placement classes as well as two honor classes.

Alex Kim, 15, an incoming-sophomore at Canyon High School, and his brother Matteo, 13, a freshman-to-be, want it all - and they are undoubtedly close to having it all.

In addition to their school and sports activities, both are members of the Kiwanis International's youth auxially program, the Key Club.

In this capacity, the brothers devote overflowing number of community service hours at Newhall Community Center, as well as performing in the Santa Clarita Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.

Since the brothers were in preschool, their parents, Victor and Lisa, have let their sons participate in various sports, such as football, baseball, basketball, golf, and swimming.

Their ultimate choice, however? Swimming.

According to Lisa Kim, she and her husband wanted their sons to excel in not only sports, but also academics and music. "I personally did not want them to be too focused in one area," she said.

During Alex's first full year of swimming competitively for Canyons Aquatic Club (CAC) - when he was in the ninth grade - he qualified for the Junior Olympics. He was one of just a handful of 350 CAC swimmers to earn his times for Junior Olympics standards.

His swim career did not halt there, though. Alex qualified for CIF in the 200-yard freestyle relay this May; qualified to swim in the Central Junior Olympics for the 50, 100 free, and the 100 breastroke; and made it into the Foothill League Finals for his 200 Individual medley and the 100 breast.

"The best part about swimming is when you race a friend of yours during a meet and beat them," Alex Kim said.

Following his brother's footsteps, Matteo also made the Junior Olympics during the short course season in the 50-yard freestyle.

At the annual Pirate Swim Meet hosted by Pleasant Valley Swim Team last weekend in Ventura, he placed first in his 50 freestyle as well as 200 individual medley, ousting swimmers in his age group from Buenaventura Swim Club, Class Swim Team, Conejo Simi Aquatics, Pleasant Valley Swim Team, Rio Mesa Swim Club, and Santa Barbara Swim Club.

"Right now, we're working to move up to Senior Blue group," said Matteo Kim. This group, which is much more intense and demanding in matters of time and energy, will inevitably help these teenage swimmers get even faster times.

"We swim for about twenty three hours a week," said Matteo explaining their quick rise in the sport.

CAC coach Vicky Donnelly added, "I do one-on-one with Alex and Matteo every Tuesday. I think it's pretty crazy because they do so much more than just swim. They're involved in so many other activities."

And, as if daily morning and evening practices and weekly private one-on-one lessons are not enough, they miraculously fit more into their time block.

In addition, the brothers play in the Santa Clarita Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. This orchestra is run and funded by College of the Canyons, and trains the most experienced and professional musicians.

Alex is an avid violinist, while Matteo is an enthusiastic cellist. At concerts, they play encore duets accompanied by fellow student pianist Rachel Cantrell.

They are also on the honor roll list for maintaining a high Grade Point Average. Alex, with his Advanced Placement and honor classes, had a GPA of 4.3. Matteo earned straight A's and ranked first place in his grade level at Sierra Vista Junior High.

Balancing swim, music and academics is not hard at all, according to the brothers.

"I feel satisfaction and a sense of completion," Alex said. "Doing all these things is much better than sitting at home all day doing nothing."

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