One-on-One with Taylor Yamahata
This week, I sat down with swimming’s Taylor Yamahata ’18. This weekend, Yamahata led the Big Green in a narrow loss to the University of Connecticut, finishing with individual victories in the 200-yard IM and the 100- and 200-yard backstroke. She picked up another first as part of the 200-yard medley relay.
When did you first begin swimming?
TY: I was actually 18 months old when I first started swimming. I just jumped in the water one day and liked it, so that’s how that started. I was on my first competitive swim team when I was six, and ever since then I have stayed in the water and just loved the sport.
Growing up, did you play any other sports?
TY: I did. I actually played tennis and did gymnastics, but then I got too tall to continue doing gymnastics competitively. Then it really just came down to tennis and swimming, but ultimately I just loved swimming so much and stuck with that.
What’s your favorite part about swimming in general?
TY: Swimming is obviously a really good workout, which I love, but my absolute favorite part is being on a team. In high school being a part of the swim team and spending so much time with such amazing people was definitely a highlight of my high school experience. It gave me such a great support system, and it really shows you what you want to do in life. You get motivated by a bunch of people, and it’s just really fun!
What made you choose Dartmouth?
TY: It was honestly one of those moments when you just step on campus and immediately think to yourself, “I love this place!” I can’t tell you exactly what it was, but I just knew from then on that I had to go here. It has such amazing atmosphere and a very collaborative environment. Students seems super genuine and fun, but secretly geniuses. On top of that the team here is great. Everyone is super goofy and supportive. I feel so lucky and proud to be a part of it all.
What are the team dynamics like?
TY: I spend almost all of my time with my team, especially during the fall when we had a ridiculous amount of practice. We typically had early morning practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and then with doubles on the other days, too. We were just together all the time so you really have to be close with your teammates. It’s been really great. It’s just so nice to have such a big support system and feel like you always have friends to go to whether it’s grabbing a meal, studying or just having someone to hang out with on the weekends. My class, [the Class of 2018], is particularly close as well, which is fun.
Are there any fun rituals or traditions your team has?
TY: We are known to wear flair to all of our events, which other teams think is funny. I think it represents Dartmouth well because we are serious about our work, yet we also like to have fun and keep things light.
How are you gearing up for the Ivy League Championships later this month?
TY: We have a lot less yardage now in our workouts, so they are getting shorter and it’s so nice. The coaches are really trying to rest us more so that we’ll have more energy for competition. The practices themselves are a little bit more intense, but they’re so much shorter so that’s great.
Aside from swimming, how do you like to spend you time at Dartmouth?
TY: That’s crazy to think about because I feel like I am always swimming. Now that the season is beginning to wrap up, it is nice — but weird — to think about the amount of free time I’ll have left. I guess I am most excited to just hang out with friends and enjoy other parts of Dartmouth that I might not have had the time for while I was in season.
This interview has been edited and condensed.