Alice Ye: Swimmer, Student, and Sister in That Order


Have you ever smelled her special stench of chlorine floating through the hallways or felt the intense gaze of her bloodshot eyes ringed with goggle marks fixed upon your puny soul? If so, then you are one of the few mortals lucky enough to see the beast emerge from the deep waters of the Eisenhower Aquatic Center, which she calls home. It seems as though my luck is boundless, for this elusive animal is my dear sister whom I love and cherish deeply. And noI was not coerced, blackmailed, bullied, orheld at gunpoint by Alice Ye while writing the following words:

After seeing (and smelling) Alice lumbering through Wheatley with her arms stiff at her side or defiantly crossed at her chest, many would immediately avert their eyes, inhale deeply for one last breath, and scuttle away in the opposite direction. However, look closer and you will see the hard work and integrity that she has put in the pool and on land, as a competitive swimmer since the age of 7. Practicing for close to 20 hours a week for 10 years, she now embodies every physical stereotype about swimmers: Alice’s blond-almost-green ends, cropped hair, and swim apparel ruined her freshman yearbook picture as seen below (you’re welcome), her face is permanently marred by goggle rings after swimming outdoors for multiple summers, and I can’t even imagine the difficulties her tailor will have in making her dress fit around her manly shoulders come prom season.

The average student who doesn’t have a training schedule as intense as Alice’s is probably wondering how she sustains her body throughout the day. It is said that Michael Phelps ate 12,000 calories a day during the 2008 Summer Olympics. From my calculations, it appears that Alice has the capability to eat at least double that amount. When out with non-swimming friends, Alice can demolish her entire plate in the time it takes the rest of the table to finish taking pictures of their food and still have the appetite to pick off the plates of others.

Between practicing at the pool, weight training at the gym, and eating, how does Alice find the time to handle the course load of the average senior? Well, she doesn’t. You’d think that an athlete with as much self-control and diligence as Alice could stay away from the time-trap that is Netflix. She has informed me that she is currently on her sixth time rewatching Friends—a show with 236 20-minute long episodeswhich makes 28,320 minutes or 472 hours wasted. During the witching hours, I often hear her shrieking in laughter to another Friends episode or busily typing away a hastily-put-together essay while I am in a deep sleep, untroubled by the assignments and tests steadily trickling in.

Digs about Alice aside, I am obligated to congratulate her on committing to the University of Chicago for swimming. In the nervous weeks before her acceptance, I watched her face break out with mountain chains of stress pimples, secretly videotaped her consuming one entire pumpkin pie in a single sitting (this will not be making an appearance as Alice wrestled my phone away and deleted it), and was on the receiving end of four anxiety-fueled rants that ended in tears or screams. Trust me, UChicago did me a bigger favor by accepting Alice than even Alice herself. Despite her crippling fear, she received a call from the swim coach at UChicago on the fateful day of November 3rd at 3:38 PM and two minutes later, she was already on the university’s online apparel shop.

Regardless of Alice’s huge presence in the swimming world, where I too often hear, “Oh, you’re Alice Ye’s little sister!” and our parents’ flat denial of the truth, I am the golden child. As much as I’d like to attribute my successes to myself, I have to give Alice most of the credit for she paved the way for me. Growing up as the first child of two immigrants from China, she faced enormous expectations but slowly lowered the bar for me through her own failures and the many disappointed headshakes she received. By the time I entered high school, my parents loosened the reins, signed things without a glance, and were generally satisfied with taking the backseat in parenting.

In all seriousness and with none of the cliches, I would not be the same person I am today without Alice as she constantly encourages me to expand my horizons, listens to me for hours on end expounding my many hatreds and philosophical leanings, and stays by my side as the dutiful security blanket she has been for 16 years. I wish her the best of luck in pursuing swimming and economics at UChicago and have grown enough as a person to admit that I will sincerely miss her presence as my 24/7 chauffeur almost as much as she will miss New York bagels and pizza.

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