DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke swimming and diving team will retun to action on February 15-16 at the Cavalier Invitational in Charlottesville, Va. Recently, GoDuke.com sat down with senior swimmer Jim Zuponeck to learn more about the Aurora, Ill., native.
GoDuke.com: What has been your proudest moment at Duke? Jim Zuponeck: Last year we had three guys go top-eight in the 100 breaststroke at ACCs - me, one of the seniors and a guy who's a junior right now. It was a great experience because we'd been training together all year and we came together and were able to all make top-eight in the conference. It felt like a real team accomplishment.
GoDuke.com: What is the most misunderstood thing about being a swimmer? JZ: That it's easy. Honestly, people think it's just hopping in and swimming laps. They don't realize that we have sets and intervals and we're on the clock all the time.
GoDuke.com: What is your favorite part of being a Duke student-athlete? JZ: The team. I've met so many great people this way. Swimming was how I met some of my best friends in high school who are still my closest friends now. Meeting people my freshman year and just growing up with them the past four years has been amazing. It's everything I could ask for. These are the best friends I've had and I'm so happy I was able to be a part of this team.
GoDuke.com: What has been your favorite class at Duke? JZ: I took it this summer. It was American Film Comedies. We started with the silent film era and we discussed comedians like Charlie Chaplin and we went all the way up to 'Wedding Crashers.' It was a lot of fun.
GoDuke.com: What is your favorite spot on campus? JZ: Alpine Bagels. I spend three or four hours at a time there, just sitting on my computer and people-watching.
GoDuke.com: Tell us about when you first started swimming. JZ: I learned how to swim when I was about three. I joined a team in my subdivision when I was six, and I was pretty terrible. This is embarrassing - I didn't learn how to dive until I was 12 years old. Everybody learns how to dive when they're like five, six, seven. It took me six years in the sport to learn one of the most crucial things. I also swam with my head up all the time. I was afraid to put my head underwater, so I was really not great at it and embarrassing to watch until I figured those things out. And then it kind of all came together for me.
GoDuke.com: Who has been the biggest influence on your life? JZ: My dad. He's always been there for me. He's pushed me and he's really helped shape me into who I am today. I forget things a lot, and he's always been there to remind me to finish this or that, and to keep me motivated with my swimming. He convinced me that if I worked hard at swimming and I worked hard at school, I could get into a really great college and that happened.
GoDuke.com: If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? JZ: Go to Disney World. We used to go for vacation every year and we haven't been since I was 14.
GoDuke.com: If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be? JZ: I'd like to be able to read people's minds. I'm always curious about what people think.
GoDuke.com: What's your favorite midnight snack? JZ: Smart Food white cheddar popcorn. I always have a bag in my room.
GoDuke.com: If you weren't a swimmer, what other sport would you play? JZ: Water polo. I used to play growing up.
GoDuke.com: Do you have any hidden talents? JZ: Catching grapes in my mouth. It was my talent for my senior talent show, and actually my dad did it with me. We had a routine.
GoDuke.com: What is your favorite restaurant in Durham? JZ: Q Shack. I never really liked southern food until I had that.
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