Vikings’ swimmer brings home school’s first state swimming title
Long story short, Tuva Siegel, junior swimmer at North High School, has chlorine in her blood.
Before she was the first-ever state champion in the pool for the Vikings, Siegel developed a natural love for swimming that can only be explained by genetics. Both of her parents were college swimmers, but didn’t push her to swim herself, she said. There were always options for her and what she wanted to do and participate in, but something about the water simply called to Siegel, she said, continuing the family tradition.
“It was something about the water, I really liked being in it. I don’t think (my parents) would have pushed me towards swimming, necessarily. I know that they gave me a bunch of choices, they weren’t set on me being a swimmer. That was my own decision,” Siegel said. “As soon as I got in the water, I noticed that I kind of had a skill for it. I was getting the hang of it quickly and I decided to continue. I just fell in love with it and I couldn’t stop.”
It’s a good thing Siegel stuck with it. Having swam competitively for more than 10 years, Siegel was ready to bring home NHS’s first ever state championship in swimming on March 16, 2021, recording a first-place time of 53:35 in the 100-yard freestyle.
The year before, she finished third in the same competition, so she returned with a vendetta to be the first to touch the wall in 2021. In club swimming, she’s participated in state competitions as well, but hasn’t brought home hardware, adding the club competitions are much bigger and a tad more competitive.
To win for NHS, though, was a special and unforgettable experience, she said, and she represents the Vikings with a lot of pride.
For more from Siegel, check out the Q&A below.
Q: What’s the secret to being a championship-level swimmer? Is there one?
A: I think it’s being mentally tough. Because you can do everything to get physically strong. You can work on your technique. But when it comes down to it, you’re in the water, you can’t hear anything, you’re alone more. It’s not so much a team sport. You’re not necessarily competing against others, it’s more you and the time that you’re going for. It’s all about getting mentally strong, and that’s definitely been a hard thing to learn.
Q: How do you block out the noise yourself?
A: It’s inside of you. That’s what is going to drive you forward. Usually you’re in your own head, in your own world, when you’re in the water. I think it’s important to find that competitive spirit in you. That’s what I’ve been trying to do a lot, and that’s what I have been doing, and I guess it’s been working.
Q: Do you hyperfocus on the 100 freestyle, or do you compete in other strokes as well?
A: I think freestyle is probably my main stroke that I swim, but I also do I.M. (individual medley), so that would mean all the other strokes combined. I don’t swim a lot of breaststroke or fly or backstroke individually. Those aren’t my strong suits, but freestyle and I.M. are my two main ones.
Q: Is winning a championship surreal to you, or is it just a product of your hard work?
A: Yeah, it’s a product of your hard work. I guess it’s kind of like a relief when you touch the wall. It’s like, ‘Great, this is everything that I’ve been working towards. This is what I’ve been training so hard for.’ So when you touch the wall, it’s just relief.
Q: What are your goals now that you’re already a state champion?
A: Well I guess now it’s all about college, which is probably for every junior. There are bigger meets out there that I can do. I’m trying to make cuts and get my times down so I can get a good scholarship and stuff like that. I’m just trying to get better. Better myself and expand my technique.
Q: Why is NHS an environment that allows you to be successful? Could you have had this success anywhere?
A: No, I love my high school. I love the team. I think it was the positive energy that we all created, because when you’re on a club team, I don’t think that the team is necessarily as together or as supporting of each other. We’re all off stressing about trying to do our own thing. But in high school it’s more calm. It’s more of a chill environment where we can all just kind of talk about swimming. It was nice to have people cheering you on. It was more of a team effort than an individual sport, so having that was nice. After I touched the wall, I was excited to get to represent North which hadn’t really ever been represented before in swimming.