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Zoe Phillips ’20 eclipses school record at Ivy Championships

Rookie sensation sets U. record for 400m IM, may qualify for NCAA championships

Amidst the thunderous cheers echoing about the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center during the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championship, one member of Brown’s swimming and diving team could be found slicing though the water at record pace, adding double digits to Bruno’s point total.

First year phenomenon Zoe Phillips ’20 competed in multiple events for the Bears over the course of the meet, including the 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley. But in the 400m individual medley, Phillips made her biggest impact, placing fifth with a time of 4:17.98, breaking the school record by nearly a second. The Salt Lake City native also beat the NCAA B standard to potentially qualify her for a spot in the NCAA Championships March 15.

For her critical contributions to the team and record-setting achievements over the course of the Ivy League Championships, Phillips has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: What was it like breaking the record? Could you immediately tell it was going to be a fast time?

Phillips: I definitely didn’t know I was breaking a record, but it was great to look up and see my team and coaches cheering when I touched the wall.

What’s it like competing in so many events and in so many heats over just a few days? How do you have time to recover?

We take a lot of ice baths. But we actually race a lot less in college than in high school.

How was the energy different in the Ivy League Championships compared to a normal meet?

The Ivy League Championships are different because you look around and see all these incredible women who are both great athletes and have amazing academic achievements. Everyone has given up something for swimming, so it’s great to come together and celebrate the time we’ve spent training.

Taking a step back, when did you start swimming and what got you into the sport?

My twin sister and I started swimming when we were eight, and my mom played water polo at (Berkeley), and she now swims recreationally.

Why did you choose Brown?

I chose Brown because I really value academics and a lot of other state universities require six hours a day of training. I wouldn’t have had the time for that if I wanted to be in an engineering program. At Brown, the swimming level is high, but it wouldn’t be overwhelming for me.

Having already had so much success, where do you see yourself in the future?

Before this weekend, I hadn’t gotten a personal record in two years, so this was a huge deal for me. I have definitely begun to love the sport just for the journey, not just about the success of it. I’m just excited to continue swimming with these amazing girls and my amazing coaches and hopefully get another time next year.

Finally, from a team standpoint, what are some goals to work toward?

We placed fifth, which was the highest we have been in 15 years. I could not be prouder of my team. They are such hard workers and I am going to miss the seniors a lot next year.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.



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