Woo began his already illustrious swim career at age nine at the Asphalt-Green Aquatic Center in New York City. While most boys his age were struggling to finish a four-lap race, Woo was already a pro at both freestyle and butterfly. A natural athlete, he abandoned all other sports to pursue swimming on a year-round basis. By the time his senior year rolled around, Woo was actively pursued by a number of Division I schools such as Princeton, Yale, Harvard and Brown Universities and the University of Pennsylvania.
However, instead of opting for a Div. I program, Woo turned to Amherst for reasons that extended beyond the pool.
“When I visited Amherst as a prospective student, I got along incredibly well with both the team and [Head] Coach [Nick] Nichols,” Woo explained. Much to the delight of Nichols and the rest of the team, Woo commented that, “I just felt comfortable at the school, and a good education is important to me as well.”
Although his inaugural season is far from over, Woo has already captured more than 10 individual gold medals and has helped to break two school records in the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays last weekend. “[Woo] was key to our success against Williams College and will be an integral part of our success at NESCACs,” said teammate Elan Ghazal ’05. Dan Morash ’04 added that “Bryan is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever seen.”
Thanks to an intense training program over Interterm and the beneficial tutelage of Coach Nichols, Woo now swims faster than ever before. With the championship season on the horizon, Woo has refused to compromise his standard of excellence. “I would like to help the men’s team win NESCACs in two weeks,” Woo said. “On a personal level, I hope to go to nationals in at least one event, and hopefully come home with the gold in the 100-yard butterfly.”
Woo has won the respect of his teammates for reasons that extend beyond the swimming pool. Co-captain Pat Kennedy ’03 called Woo “both an extraordinary swimmer and human being in general.” Woo broke a 1998 pool record in the 100-yard butterfly during a pre-season intra-squad time trial. “Sometimes I have to remind myself that he is made of flesh and bone like the rest of us. He is truly an exceptional athlete,” Kennedy said of the achievement.
There is more to life than athletics, and Woo has made just as much of an impression out of the pool as he has in it. He spends his summers volunteering with underprivileged children in New York City.
Perhaps Kennedy put it best when he referred to Woo as “a great swimmer, but an even better human being.”