LANSING | The mere thought of undertaking a task that requires moving long distances fatigues many people.
In the case of Thornton Fractional swimmer Annie Zupan, however, this "mere thought" is nonexistent.
Although only a junior, Zupan has been swimming for a majority of her life. She got her start 10 years ago, when a friend's brother was a member of the Lansing Swimming Organization. Zupan developed an interest in the sport and decided to give it a try.
That led to many years of hard work in the LSO, which served as an exceptional training ground. T.F. coach Taren O'Toole certainly has taken notice of Zupan's past and present efforts.
"She has good work ethic, and she has good endurance, which allows her to always give her best," O'Toole said. "Overall, she is a strong swimmer."
Zupan primarily competes in some of the longer events, such as the 500-yard freestyle, where she has clocked a personal-best 5:47. Zupan also swims the 100 backstroke, with a 1:12 representing her fastest pace.
While some may shudder at the thought of tackling such races, Zupan takes it all in stride.
"People think I am crazy when I tell them that I swim the longer races," she said. "But I am better at those than the shorter races."
Even though the longer races are where she shines brightest, Zupan, like most other swimmers, occasionally gets worried about what will come out of a meet in terms of successes and failures. Nevertheless, she doesn't allow the pressure to affect her performances, as both swimmer and coach can attest.
"She does not let competition get into her head," O'Toole said. "She has self-confidence within herself."
Zupan said she gets nervous but then focuses on the end of the race.
That quality is essential in not only helping Zupan guide herself along, but also making her a leader to her teammates and giving them the necessary motivation to compete at their best.
"(Annie) is a natural leader who stepped up into that," O'Toole said. "She is one of our captains this year, and she is willing to modify her techniques in order to be successful."
"Being a leader has taught me how to be a better teammate to the new people," Zupan said. "Many of these girls haven't swum before, so the people who have more experience have to be those leaders."
With this thought in mind, Zupan is now focused on getting herself and the other Thornton Fractional girls on the right track for a season filled not only with hard work, dedication and sacrifices, but also success.
"We will do well this year," Zupan said. "Even though we lost some seniors, I think we will do just as well as, if not better than, previous years."