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Patch MVP: Christine Yan, Ladue girls swimming

This week's 'Athlete of the Week' is a serious state title contender that owns the fastest time of any swimmer in the area in the individual 100-yard breaststroke.

Patch: There's only a little while left for you to decide on where you might want to go to college. What are your thoughts about college as the time to choose grows near?

CY: As of right now, I haven't really set my sights on a particular school. I'm still trying to explore my options. I do know that I'd like to go into the medical field though.

Patch: Will you try to swim in college (or possibly play another sport)? Or will you be going to college as a regular student?

CY: That's a really hard decision... I guess it all depends on where I decide to go to college. As always, academics come first and I want to know I can really focus on my education. That being said, I really love swimming and can't imagine ever not doing it.

Patch: How did you get started in competitive swimming?

CY: I've always loved being in water. I started swim lessons around the age of four, and joined the Edwardsville YMCA Breakers swim team when I was eight. Ever since then, my life has revolved around swimming and I wouldn't change a thing.

Patch: When did you know you were a good swimmer?

CY: When I was eight years old, my friends and I won a relay at the Illinois/Missouri YMCA state championships. That was my first championship meet, and I remember seeing all the fast swimmers I was racing and thinking, "Wow... Maybe I'm not so bad after all!"

But something that's what's great about the sport of swimming, there is always something out there to work for. Whether you're focused on learning a stroke, fixing your technique, or getting the qualifying times for high level meets, there are always goals to set and bars to raise. There's always something just out of reach, and I think the journey is just as satisfying as the reward.

Patch: Tell us about the current Ladue swim season. You guys have faced some really tough opponents. Tell us about it.

CY: We've definitely gone against some fast teams this year. But what helps us is that we have a lot of depth on our team, people who specialize in different things, which gives us a strong lineup that can cover all the events.

Patch: What's the favorite thing you like about being on your team?

CY: What makes Ladue such a great team to be on is the sense of togetherness. We always cheer each other on and I know for a fact that these girls have helped me swim some of my best times this season. We race and push each other, but it's great knowing you have an entire team behind you. We always have fun, even in the middle of the hardest practices.

Patch: Tell us about your biggest fan. Who out there roots for you the hardest? And how does that make you feel?

CY: Without a doubt my parents and my brother are my biggest supporters. They always root for me and come to as many of my meets as they can. My parents work just as hard as I do! It seems like my mom spends all day cooking (what can I say... swimmer's appetite) and I know it's not easily for my dad waking up at 4:15 a.m. to drive me to practice a couple times a week.

I'm really grateful for all they do for me and it really sets an example of how I want to support my children in the future.

Patch: Do you have a favorite celebrity?

CY: My favorite celebrity currently is probably Jennifer Lawrence. I like her as an actress, in the Hunger Games, but she's got a great personality too. She's hilarious and very upfront. At the same time, she's really down to earth and not afraid to break the "Hollywood actress" stereotype and stick with her beliefs. I think that makes her a great role model.

Patch: What's your favorite tune in your ipod right now?

CY: If I had to choose a favorite it'd be "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls. Other artists I particularly like are The Fray and Ellie Goulding.

Patch: Last question, what is your go-to karaoke song? Meaning if you were trying to win a contest like American Idol or X-Factor what song would you sing to make the audience vote for you as the winner?

CY: Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway! It's a powerful song.

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