College Bound: Phillip Sajaev
March 20, 2017
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Senior Phillip Sajaev committed to the University of Pennsylvania early in his senior year to swim. A brief version of this interview was run in CT’s March issue.
Central Times: How many years have you swam?
Phillip Sajaev: Competitively, since I was four.
CT: When did you realize that you could go D1?
PS: I knew I could probably go D1 for swimming around eighth grade or freshman year. I placed at State as a freshman and usually if you place at State you can go D1.
CT: What was your reaction?
PS: When I was a freshman, I didn’t really think about college. I was focused on improving my times. I wasn’t focused on colleges until junior year. Once junior year ended, I sent out a mass email to a lot of different coaches to see who would respond. So I sent out that email to 30 coaches and 28 or 29 responded [saying they were] interested. At that moment, I knew there was a good chance I could go to one of those schools.
CT: Why did you decide on your college?
PS: I took official visits to three of the schools so I narrowed it down to three schools in August, which were Northwestern, Princeton and UPenn. At that point, I took a visit to all of them and I made my decision the day after my last visit, which was to Princeton. I mostly chose UPenn because they had the fastest swim team out of those three and I felt that the guys there were similar to the guys at Central and I would blend in there.
CT: What are you most excited about for college swimming?
PS: I got recruited as a sprinter, so this will be the first time I’ve ever done sprint training. When you’re in high school, they train you to be an all-around swimmer. I’ll be able specialize now in what I do best.
CT: What are you most nervous about for college swimming?
PS: The most nervous part is that everybody is as fast as me in college now. Usually, I’m one of the fastest people on the team but now I’ll be average on the team. It’ll be weird getting used to that.
CT: What has it meant to you to swim and place at State all four years of high school?
PS: As soon as I finished my last swim, I hugged my coach and we both started crying because we realized it was the last time I would ever swim for him. My high school coach has been training me since I was nine years old so he wasn’t just my high school coach. I just knew that his time coaching me had just ended.
CT: Do you have any words of advice for underclassmen?
PS: The main thing I’ve learned through swimming is even if you worked super hard, there’s no guarantees you’ll go fast. You might have a bad meet, but as long as you work hard you’ll have a better chance at succeeding. But that doesn’t mean you’ll succeed for sure.