Silqi Luo: How swimming helped her become stronger

Iowa State junior Silqi Luo swims the 200-yard butterfly. Luo finished third with a time of 2:12.83.

Silqi Luo sets out with a goal to break the school record each season. This year is her senior year and has competed in races at Iowa State for almost five years.

Luo started her swimming life when she was six years old. At that time, her parents let her learn swimming and play the piano.

“I needed to swim and play the piano every day when I was young,” Luo said. “But actually, I am not a big fan of playing the piano. Swimming is better for me.”

Luo is an international student from Xiamen, China. She had a hard adjustment making the transition to the United States. 

First, she had to get used to the practice at Iowa State and adjust her body condition to fit the competition demands in the United States. Luo comes from a city which features much warmer weather than Ames, so finding extra solutions to the cold weather also became another challenge.

“When I was in the first year, I could not get used to the daily morning practices,” Luo said. “My body always felt so tired.”

After a series of quick adjustment, she gradually found the feeling when she was competing in China and has been involved heavily with Iowa State swimming. 

Then, Luo had an impressive sophomore year. At the Big 12 Championship, she took second place in 400-yard freestyle (3:22.93), third place in 800-yard freestyle (7:19.36) and fifth place in 200-yard freestyle (1:49.94). She also became an All-Big 12 honoree in the 200-yard freestyle and earned team’s Most Improved Swimmer award.

However, like most swimming athletes, she suffered from serious injuries after her successful sophomore year. For her whole junior year, Luo was not able to train and compete. The injury had her take a step back and allow other swimmers to take her position. Because of that, Luo came back her senior year with more energy and power.

In the meet with Omaha, Luo got the first in 200-yard free (1:54.94), 100-yard butterfly (1:01.04) and the 200-meter individual medley (2:09.87). In the recent Kansas Classic, she competed for most freestyle events and helped the Cyclones earn a third place finish. 

“Her performance this year is tremendous,” said swimming head coach Duane Sorenson. “She starts off with a much higher level and everything is following our expectation at the beginning in this season.”

Luo is already well prepared for her last season on the Iowa State swimming team. Different with the early times, she is more confident and imperturbable right now. That is how swimming is helping her become stronger.

“I want to break the records in our school,” Luo said, “I broke it two years ago, but last year my teammates did really well.

“I will try my best and put my name on the board.”