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Champion swimmer commits to New York University

Jason Hu
Llew Ladomirak dives into the pool for her Central Coast Section freestyle race on May 4. Ladomirak, a junior at Palo Alto High School, recently committed to New York University and competed at this year’s CCS. “I won CCS individually in the 200 meter freestyle,” Ladomirak said. “I was so happy and proud of myself because last year I got 4th, so I really improved in that race. I was super nervous for CCS but we had such a fun team this year that it ended up being an awesome meet.”

The video shows the rippling of the water. Screams and cheers erupt as a hand clasps the edge of the pool.  Llew Ladomirak, a junior on the Palo Alto High School varsity swim team, has done it, winning both her 200 and 500 freestyle at Central Coast Section earlier this month at Independence High School. Her teammates dive into the water in celebration, chanting “Sko-Vikes” with their coach.

Swimming competitively since she was seven, Ladomirak is one of the most recent Paly student-athletes to commit to a university. In college, Ladomirak plans to continue her swimming journey while majoring in international relations and getting a minor in politics at New York University.

As she enters her last year at Paly and prepares to transition into being a university student, Ladomirak is determined to set new goals for herself. Despite NYU being a lower division school, Ladomirak chose it because it provided the best in terms of academics, location and opportunities.

“I visited [NYU] in early November and I ended up completely falling in love with the school,” Ladomirak said. “I knew that there was nowhere else I was going to like better.” 

According to Ladomirak, going in as one of the top performers, she is looking forward to her time at NYU.

“I am now a bigger fish in a smaller pond which I didn’t think I wanted for college, but I’m not unhappy about,” Ladomirak said. “I want to make a big impact on the team all four years.”

Throughout her time at Paly, Ladomirak individually made it to CCS by swimming in the 200 and 500 freestyle. She had also set the goal of winning her two events [200 and 500 freestyle] in both her league and CCS competitions, improving three places since last year Ladomirak and the girls team got second overall. 

When I saw that I dropped a ton of time and won, I was super happy and proud,” Ladomirak said. “My teammates were happy for me as well, and it was just a great feeling.”

According to Ladomirak, she had struggled with the mental side of swimming as an athlete.

“My biggest struggle with the mentality around swimming was that I could never get in that fierce mindset that you have when you’re racing,” said Ladomirak. “I’ve seen Olympians race and they have this grit and determination, and I never felt like I had it.”

Coach Tony Batis of the Palo Alto Swim Club and Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics, changed her perspective. According to Ladomirak, Batis helped her find the spark to win. 

“He helped me get through a lot of the pressure and find the love I had for the sport again,” Ladomirak said. “He also drilled that grit and determination back into me.”

According to Batis, his philosophy is to help Ladomirak and other swimmers by guiding them to their next destination like college, and make sure they are prepared for all the challenges in the next environment. 

“Llew better understands the process and manages her mind and body much better now,” Batis said. “She sees the big picture and recognizes what she needs to do for her big-picture goals.  All I really have to do at this point is occasionally remind her of that.”

Struggling with the mental side of swimming is not all that Ladomirak has had to overcome. The stress of being a student-athlete and all the issues that come with it also burden her. Spending time training in the pool for 20 to 25 hours a week on top of being in school seven hours a day makes it hard to balance her swimmer lifestyle but has a positive impact, according to Ladomirak.

“My big thing[what she’s good at] is I’m really good at fitting in any amount of work I can,” Ladomirak said. “I’m always doing[school] work and I always have something that I can do in that time[free time].”

Starting young, Ladomirak has been in the water since three years old. According to Ladomirak, she got into swimming because of her parents.

“My parents put me on a swim team to get better and I just fell in love,” Ladomirak said.

Despite the late nights and early mornings, Loadomirak said swimming is her whole world. With two of her siblings also being swimmers and her dad a coach, swimming is an integrated part of her life.

“It [swimming] is my life, and it’s all-consuming,” Ladomirak said. “I love it.”

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About the Contributors
Motoko Iwata
Motoko Iwata, Opinion/Editorial Editor
Motoko Iwata (Class of 2026) joined The Voice in her sophomore year. At Paly, she does badminton and debate. In her free time, Motoko enjoys spending time with her friends and reading about current events.
Joy Tan
Joy Tan, Sports Editor, Multimedia Editor
Joy Tan (class of 2026) joined The Voice in her sophomore year and enjoys playing volleyball and taking photos.

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