Hayden Tupper (‘23), third from right, poses for a photo with the Pleasanton Seahawks World Cup team in the Berlin Airport. (Provided by Hayden Tupper)
Hayden Tupper (‘23), third from right, poses for a photo with the Pleasanton Seahawks World Cup team in the Berlin Airport.

Provided by Hayden Tupper

Hayden Tupper (‘23) competes at swimming World Cup and Junior National Championships

In early December, swimmer Hayden Tupper (‘23) competed at Junior National Swimming Championships in Austin, Texas, where athletes must reach elite time standards to qualify. As a dedicated swim athlete, Tupper has spent the last eleven years putting himself onto the national and international stage.

At the meet, Tupper qualified for and competed in the 50, 100, and 200 yard freestyle, and he also swam time trials for the 100 yard backstroke and 200 yard individual medley (I.M). In blistering fashion, Tupper set two lifetime bests in the 50 and 200 I.M in times of 21.05 and 1:53.82 respectively.

“Junior Nationals was definitely a cool experience, I got to swim with the best 18 and under swimmers in the entire country. I was definitely hoping for more time drops, but I have sectionals [soon] which is another chance for [time] drops. I didn’t have any specific goals going into the meet, I was just hoping for improvement,” said Tupper.

Taking the international stage

Tupper’s recent competition experience extends far beyond national levels. In late October, he flew across the world to compete at the Fina Swimming World Cup in Berlin, Germany. The meet was his first time racing internationally, which also gave him an opportunity to explore the historic city.

“Swimming in Berlin was definitely the most thrilling experience that swimming has given me so far. My teammates and I arrived a few days before the competition started, which gave us plenty of time to tour the city. This was all our first time in Europe, so we were pretty excited. We visited museums, went on tours, and even on a boat,” said Tupper.

Kicking off his international swimming career, Tupper competed in two events per day throughout the four day meet. This is was the first time he would represent team USA at the international professional level, an experience he won’t soon forget.

Representing team USA and competing against so many foreign countries was an incredible experience, one that I’ve never had before. I got to compete against some of the best swimmers in the world including several olympians. While I wasn’t able to win or anything, just being there and being a part of team USA was amazing,” said Tupper.

Working hard for the future

However, Tupper’s success in the sport hasn’t come easy. As part of the Pleasanton Seahawks’ elite training group since freshman year, he endures nine to ten rigorous practices a week, four of which start at 4:30 am.  Despite this, he still manages to achieve above 4.0 GPAs, an outstanding feat of academic and physical endurance.

“My typical school day consists of a practice before school, my school day, and then another practice right after school. This lifestyle isn’t easy, and I definitely question it sometimes. It doesn’t leave much time for homework and studying, so I try to be very efficient. I got used to the schedule pretty quickly and was able to find ways to make it work,” said Tupper.

Promisingly, these four years of hard work in and out of the pool were validated, when Tupper was recruited to be a student-athlete attending Emory University. While it wasn’t his top choice initially, a campus visit and a meet-and-greet with the coaches and swim team solidified his love for the school.

“The campus was so nice and modern, including the pool and the sport centers. I got to eat lunch with some of the swim team members, and I loved them. Overall I couldn’t find anything wrong with the school, so it was perfect for me. Right after my visit they gave me an offer, and I was very happy to accept it,” said Tupper.

Unsurprisingly, working hard day in and day out is something not everyone can accomplish without proper drive and motivation. For Hayden, his biggest motivator was the opportunity to swim at a collegiate level. But love and support from his teammates also never fell short.

“A big motivator for me has been my teammates, I definitely would not be able to get through the intense training without them. We all go through it together. There’s really no secret to success, at least for me. I just kept doing what I had to in order to reach my goal,” said Tupper.

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