Used with permission by Jerry Chu.

Leaving a legacy at Lynbrook, Chu broke the school’s 100-yard breaststroke record two years in a row, with the most recent time being 55.94 seconds.

Jerry Chu commits to Carnegie Mellon University for swimming

Ready to test the waters of collegiate swimming, senior Jerry Chu was recruited by Carnegie Mellon University as a breaststroke swimmer and Computer Science major. Leaving a legacy at Lynbrook, Chu broke the school’s 100-yard breaststroke record two years in a row, with the most recent time being 55.94 seconds.

Starting at four years old, Chu tried out numerous sports, but as he watched his older sister’s passion for swimming, Chu ultimately chose to follow her lead and swim. He began swimming competitively at six years old — an especially young age for the sport and an early foreshadowing of his success.

As Chu entered middle school, the hours of practice he had to dedicate to swimming increased and pushed him to continue working hard. He presently devotes about 25 hours a week to intense training and gets at most two weeks of rest each year. Despite the high amount of commitment required of swimming, Chu finds that the gratification from hard work and the fun community make it worth it.

“Results always come if you put in the work,” Chu said. “Everyone gets lazy sometimes, but I think it was ultimately still worth it because it got me where I wanted to, and I made a lot of friends along the way.”

While Chu has been training consistently for nearly his whole life, the COVID-19 pandemic put a detrimental six-month pause on his training in his freshman year, which he feels set his progress back by a few years. He was finally able to get back up to pace by his junior year, until he was set back again by an injury just before the summer season in 2022. In the middle of the most critical part of the recruitment timeline, his last chance to prove himself was the winter season of senior year. Although his time back after the quarantine was interrupted by his injury, his coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, Kevin Zacher, witnessed Chu’s passion become invigorated.

“When we went down to Houston, Texas for a meet, he swam a couple of new best times,” Zacher said. “He realized that he’s not done, that he hasn’t stopped improving. That really fueled him during the last year to get to the point where he can swim at CMU and I think he’ll contribute to their team in a positive way.”

Chu feels that the mutual respect he shares with Zacher and Zacher’s focused, targeted training methods were impactful to his motivation and improvement in swimming. Combined with the community of fellow swimmers that he has trained with since he was about 10 years old, the often grueling sport has remained a fulfilling experience.

“Zacher gains your respect and makes you want to do well because you feel respected,” Chu said. “I’ve also grown up with my teammates and I feel like if I had done it alone, I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far.”

Luckily, Chu will get to continue his athletic journey with senior Tianyou Zhang, who has also been recruited to swim for CMU. Rising up with a longtime teammate by his side and bringing a greater focus to weight training, which is common in collegiate swimming, Chu believes he will feel at home in CMU’s culture but is also set to grow in his continued journey.

“With Jerry, it’s never a question of effort,” Zacher said. “He works really, really hard, and obviously, that’s paid off for him. He’s a fierce competitor and I feel like he’s just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.”

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