Sharks make a splash with Chuan Wang

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2003

All was quiet in the Troy State University Natatorium except for the rhythmic splashing of water and the coach's voice calling instructions to the young Tiger Sharks.

There was no hint of a Southern drawl in his voice as he enthusiastically encouraged the swimmers. "One more time and we'll go home." The swimmers were off.

"They are good," Chuan Wang said, with a smile. "They work hard. They will be better still."

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Wang is a "volunteer" coach for the Tiger Sharks swim team and said working with the young swimmers brings him a great deal of satisfaction.

"I like to see them become better swimmers," he said. "There is no swim team here at Troy State, so I cannot be a member of a team. For me, this is my swim team."

Wang transferred to Troy State from the university he was attending in China.

"The university in China and Troy State University had a program that allowed me to transfer here," he said. "Troy State is a good university and I am very proud to be able to come here for my education."

Wang is an athlete and his career goal is to work in a field that provides him with a continuing opportunity to be involved in athletics.

"I want to have a career in sports medicine," he said. "I am an athlete and my mother is a doctor. That is the reason for my interest in sports medicine."

Wang was a member of the Chinese National Swim Team and competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

He swam the 400 and 1,500 meter free-style events. Although he was seventh in the 1,500 meter event, he was not totally satisfied with his performance.

"I always want to do better," he said. "I always want the young swimmers to do better. That is why I am a coach."

Wang will receive his undergraduate degree from Troy State in 2005. His plans are to attend graduate school before returning home to China.

"I like it here very much," Wang said. "When I came to Atlanta for the Olympics, that was my first time to the United States. People here are friendly. I have been at Troy State for two and a half years. This is like my second home."

The young swimmers Wang coaches are part of the reason that he is so happy here in Alabama. Coaching Tiger Sharks is an opportunity to be involved in the sport that has always been so important to him.

"I will always swim," he said. "It keeps me in shape and it is relaxing and fun."

Wang's enthusiasm for competitive swimming helps keep spirits high among the Tiger Sharks. His enjoyment of swimming as a lifetime, leisure sport is his own safe harbor.