GVSU's Harry Shalamon swims his way to first individual national championship
Grand Valley State took to the 2019 NCAA DII Swimming & Diving Championships in Indianapolis from March 13 to 16, where junior Harry Shalamon swam in the 200 back race with the time of 1:42.46, earning his first individual national championship title.
Shalamon’s hard work paid off that Saturday when he broke his previous 2018 NCAA DII record of 1:44.73 in the 200 back. Through increasing his weight training, focusing on his endurance and working with the freestyle team, he was able to shave off two point twenty-seven seconds off of his time.
“It feels great to win,” Shalamon said. “I’ve been working so hard, it feels really good to be up there swimming with some of the best.”
When approaching the big race, Shalamon did not allow intimidation to get the best of him. Instead, he welcomed the nervous feeling within himself and used it as momentum for the competition to come.
“Personally, I thrive on nerves,” Shalamon said. “Having these nerves pushes me and puts me in the right mindset. It makes me work harder and I end up doing better.”
Working hard has never been a foreign concept to this athlete. Shalamon’s swimming career began when is mother signed him up for the sport at the young age of eight. However, he was not passionate about it right away.
“At first I wasn’t interested in it, because I played soccer, but I learned that I enjoyed the individuality of swimming more when I grew to the age of 15,” Shalamon said. “I liked the fact that I was not dependent on anyone other than myself to win.”
When it was time to decide on a college, Shalamon chose to leave Jersey, his hometown in the United Kingdom and made the far move to Michigan. He did this specifically for the GVSU swimming program and its reputation.
“I wanted to go to the (2019 Commonwealth Games in Australia) next year, and the training here at Grand Valley was more prominent than that at home. Specifically the weight training and the partners, they became a support system,” Shalamon said. “At home most of my friends had stopped swimming and started getting jobs, while I was still interested in it.”
Already thinking about next season, Shalamon again hopes to qualify to compete at nationals, win another title and once more break his personal record.
His aspiration does not stop there, as after college, Shalamon wants to participate in the 2022 Commonwealth Games that will be held in England, where he hopes to win a title as well.
Some advice that Shalamon would like to pass along to any swimmers with the hope of making it to nationals is to be dedicated above all else.
“Dedication; it’s gonna be hard to make time and practice," Shalamon said. "But it will all be worth it in the end if you work hard enough and stay dedicated."