Athlete of the Month: Melinda Tang ’17

photo by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Melody/" title="View all of this person's work">"Melody</a></span>

photo by Melody Tang

At a very young age, Melinda Tang ’17 was introduced to swimming as a way to put her energy to good use.

“When I was little, I was really hyper and I had a lot of energy, and my neighbors said, ‘Why don’t you come swim with us?’,” Tang said.

As a result, she joined the club swim team, White Waters, that her neighbors attended. She enjoyed her experience with this team, but Tang, looking for a more competitive, year-round team to join, switched to X-Cel Swimming when she was eight years old. After joining this new team, she switched from specializing in backstroke to butterfly.

“I took lessons under one coach and she was very good at butterfly. She fixed my stroke and noticed that I was doing pretty well. She pushed me with this to the point that I got really good at butterfly,” Tang said. “It was kind of an adaptation.”

At the time, Tang was living in South Brunswick, but she moved to Princeton right before her freshman year.

“I had lived in South Brunswick for nine years and had grown up there.  Switching to a completely new district was definitely a transition.” said Tang.  “I went from being with all my friends to not knowing anybody.”  

Tang decided to join the swim team at Princeton High School, working hard with her teammates during practice while also building overall team chemistry. She strove each day to help the team achieve its goals. During Tang’s second year on the team, she participated in a four-person relay that won at the Meet of Champions, earning first in the state.

Currently, as a senior, Tang is one of the five captains of the swim team. Her season has been highlighted with breaking the county record with a time of 1 minute 2.8 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly. She not only invests her energy into her performance on the swim team, but also dedicates herself as a leadership figure on the team.

“Everyone looks up to her as a role model. She welcomes her captain duties by thinking of psychs for meet days, organizing the team pasta parties, and congratulating the team on a good meet,” said Co-Captain Jenny Bond ’17.

Tang enjoys this close relationship with her team and is prepared to swim the extra lap for it. During one of her meets, she was lined up to swim the 500-meter race, which is 20 laps—the longest race at the meet. But that day, Tang experienced nausea throughout the meet, and at one point, even threw up. Julia Mullarkey ’17 explains that even though Tang was ill, she pushed through and won the race.

“We all told her she didn’t have to swim—that it wasn’t worth the pain, but she insisted that she swim. She swam the event and won. We were all so impressed, and for the rest of the season we called her our MVP,” Mullarkey said.

As captain, Tang has noticed that her team became closer this year, with camaraderie growing alongside ability.

“Everyone really has improved a lot, and as a team we have grown closer together from the beginning of the season with everyone focusing on their own groups, and now we are getting to know each other better.”

Tang has watched her team grow and is now ready to continue her swimming career as a Division III athlete at the University of Chicago, where she will specialize in the butterfly.

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