Sports

Oak Harbor grad completes honor-filled college career

John Hu - Stevens Athletic Department  photo
John Hu
— image credit: Stevens Athletic Department photo

Forty.

That’s the number of academic and athletic awards accumulated by Oak Harbor High School graduate and swimmer John Hu in his impressive four-year career at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.

Hu holds three Stevens’ school swim records (200 individual medley, 400 individual medley and 200 butterfly), earned Stevens’ Most Valuable Player award twice, was the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships Swimmer of the Meet four consecutive years, received the district (Empire 8) Swimmer of the Year award twice and picked up district Swimmer of the Week honors 13 times.

In addition, he received All-American honors five times, All-American honorable mention seven times and National Swimmer of the Week once.

This year he helped Stevens win its second district title and highest national finish ever, sixth.

Hu, a chemical engineering major, excelled in the classroom as well, landing on the Stevens’ and conference Presidents’ Lists three times each. His junior and seniors years, he was a Capital One All-District academic selection and College Swimming Coaches Association Scholar All-American. His senior season he was a third-team Capital One Academic All-American.

Stevens swim coach Brad Thornton said, “John has been an absolute pleasure to coach over the past four years, and his results speak to that. He comes to practice every day ready to work hard with a smile on his face. Over the course of his career, John has never missed a workout. His consistency at practice and great attitude have made him the ideal role model for his teammates.”

Hu was introduced to Stevens by former high school teammate Evan Wilson. When he visited the campus, he liked what Stevens had to offer academically, athletically and geographically.

He said, “I’m still unsure if I prefer the East or West Coast, but I do appreciate having the opportunity to experience the difference.”

Swimming for the North Whidbey Aquatic Club under coach Neil Romney and for Oak Harbor High School helped prepare him for the rigors of collegiate swimming, Hu said.

“From NWAC I learned discipline, good stroke technique, how to show a little toughness, responsibility... the list goes on and on,” he said. “At the collegiate level, competitions are about winning as a team. High school swimming gave me a taste of that.”

As a college freshman he set a goal of placing in the top eight at the national meet. He did just that, finishing eighth in the 400 IM, and added a ninth (200 fly) and 13th (200 IM).

From there his goals were to continue to drop “serious time” and be a major contender for a national title.

He met the goal of national contender this season, placing third in the 400 IM in 3:53.16 (taking nearly two seconds off his school record) and fourth in the 200 fly in a school record 1:47.79.

He calls his national 400 IM swim his greatest achievement: “Finishing at the wall, I knew I had exhausted every last muscle in my body, that I had put forth all the effort I possibly could have. When I managed to turn around to see the scoreboard, I cracked a smile when I saw my time and place. To have given my all and to have done so well at the end of my career kind of validated my whole swimming experience.”

Now that his college eligibility is complete, Hu said he might swim “with masters, but I don’t think I will swim quite as competitively any more.”

His scholastic swimming days are through but their impression will remain: “I take with me memories and friendships forged in the flame of hardship. From swimming in school, I’ve learned a little of what I’m truly capable of when it comes down to the wire.”

Hu also had the opportunity to share his success with his brother, Price, a sophomore and member of the Stevens’ swim team.

John Hu said, “We get along well, so we room together. My fear when he came to Stevens was that he’d be stuck in my shadow, but he’s started making his own way here and I’m proud of him for it.”

Sister Ciara is a freshman swimmer at the University of Chicago.

John Hu will return to Stevens in the fall to finish a graduate degree in systems engineering.

Let’s make that 41.

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