Focused and ready to improve upon her successful 2013 freshman performance, Lancers’ sophomore swimmer Shannon Cheung possess a rare ability to excel in both the classroom and the swimming pool.
“Shannon’s a hard worker and she is very focused and goal oriented,” 15-year swimming head coach Terry Stoddard said. “She has a bigger picture. She wants to compete at a 4-year university so she’s not just training for this season.”
The versatile and dedicated political science major plans on attending law school in her near future, but not before she returns to the pool in hopes of improving her second place finish at last year’s CCCAA State Championships.
“Shannon has improved a great deal from last year,” Stoddard said. “She came to our school thinking she was a sprinter, but now she’s dabbling in the distance freestyle events.”
Last year Cheung advanced all the way to the State Championships where she finished second in the Individual Medley against California’s elite junior college swimmers. This year, Cheung has already shown improvements from last year, with first place finishes in each of the Lancers’ first five meets.
“Shannon is an amazing athlete and student. She trains all four strokes,” Stoddard added. “It’s like a coach’s heaven to have an athlete who is goal oriented, competitive, and driven like Shannon is. She’s a joy to coach.”
On Friday, Cheung was instrumental in the Lancers’ South Coast Conference-opening victories over Chaffey and host Long Beach City College. The Lancers (2-1 in overall dual meets) dominated with individual event wins in 12 of the 15 events, including three individual wins from Cheung.
“Swimming with a swimmer of Shannon’s caliber motivates yourself to perform at your best and try to keep with her at practice.” Freshman swimmer Tiffany Wong said.
Cheung captured first place in the 200-yard freestyle (2:02.65), the 100-freestyle (58.29), the500-free (5:24.27) and also anchored an exciting 400 freestyle relay team in which Cheung is the only returning sophomore.
“I just try to do my best in the pool and hopefully everyone else will follow and put in 110 percent as well,” Cheung said. “I find leading by example to be most effective.”
In February, Cheung was more than effective for the Lancers with nine first place victories in only two meets. At the Mt. SAC Invitational, Cheung propelled the Lancers to a second place finish winning six individual events. It was the highest finish ever for the Lancers at the annual meet.
“Shannon is a really talented swimmer,” Wong said “She works hard and she has earned all of the awards and accolades she has received and will receive in the future.”
Although Cheung is poised to become one of the Lancers most decorated swimmers, as a young freshman, the versatile swimmer only expected to participate in a few events.
“I had my mind set on one or two events last year,” Cheung admitted. “As I started training more with coach I was able to expand a little bit more and improve my strokes. I basically try to help wherever I’m needed.”
Already an amazing student-athlete, Cheung continues to work hard on improving her first place stroke and expressed her goals for the Lancers’ this season.
“This year we want to place higher at our conference meets and win more dual meets,” Cheung said. “I want to improve and build on last year and see if I can improve my times at the state championships as well.”
Although the 2014 season remains young, Cheung hasn’t had any problems as she has already recorded 16 first place victories on the season.
“The main difference this year is our depth,” Stoddard said. “We have more people at the top and our second-tier of swimmers are the strongest we’ve had probably since our 2003 championship team.”
Cheung credited her swimming success to hard work and training that the experienced Stoddard has implemented.
“We just have to continue to work hard,” Cheung said. “We’ve sort of beefed up our training and that allows us to help each other out a lot more this year.”
The standout swimmer who is passionate about government and politics is already considering her options after her Lancer career is over.
“I hope to get into law school,” Cheung said. “I don’t know where I’m transferring yet, but my dream colleges are Claremont, Georgetown University and UCLA.”
Cheung will look to continue her amazing 2014 season as the Lancers travel to East Los Angeles College to participate in a SCC double dual meet against Mt. SAC and ELAC. The first race is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.