After a highly successful season for both squads, men’s and women’s swimming and diving will have to say goodbye to the mainstay members of the team.
Senior DH Hwang, along with graduate student Andrea Ho, swam for the men’s and women’s teams, respectively, over the past four years, ending their final season with the team this year. Both are members of teams that have established a standard of success, winning both the men’s and women’s conference titles in 2022.
“I’ll just say well done,” Hwang said. “I’m proud of every single person on this team. I’m proud of what they’ve done, the work they’ve put in, and I’m just happy to see what they do in the future.”
Ho, a business analytics masters candidate from Perth, Australia, has been with the team for five years, beginning in the 2017-18 season. Securing her first Atlantic 10 gold during the 2019-20 season, Ho went on to establish herself as a leader of the team, with which she won the first two A-10 titles in program history.
“My favorite moment was sweeping the men’s and women’s because that was the perfect way to cap off a career,” Ho said.
She said she was happy to see the progression of the team throughout her five years, how they became closer and improved each year.
A mechanical engineering major from Honolulu, Hawaii, Hwang said he was relieved the season was over and he could end his career on a high note.
“I’m sure I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but I’ve been doing this sport for 13, 14 years now,” Hwang said. “And to be able to finish it off with an achievement like that, it was relieving that I could go off on such a good note.”
Hwang was part of a largely dominant men’s team, which captured three A-10 championships in his four years with the program and has won the A-10 title five times out of the last six years.
Head Coach Brian Thomas said he was proud of Hwang’s work ethic, consistency and dedication to the team despite his busy schedule as a mechanical engineering major.
“This past summer DH would basically get on the Metro with his bike to Sterling, hop off the Metro, ride eight miles to work and then back at night,” Thomas said. “And then coming in and basically putting himself in a position as a senior to get best times, to have a huge impact at the conference level is something I’m really proud of with him.”
Thomas said Ho will also leave behind a strong legacy that has “nothing to do with swimming.”
“The way her team and teammates feel about her is hard to match,” Thomas said. “You just don’t see it all that often. We kind of consider her a little bit of the team mom, if that makes sense. She’s just super mature – someone that’ll be honest with you when you need it.”
Thomas said he recognized the dedication of the two athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a months-long postponement of activities.
Nevertheless, Hwang and Ho stuck with the team. Thomas said he was impressed with Ho’s commitment to improvement especially, setting a career best time in the 200 backstroke.
“Senior year coming off of COVID, almost no one in the country was doing that coming off of a six-month layoff,” Thomas said.
Both students said it was a bittersweet moment to end their careers as they will now have to navigate life without a team behind them.
“The community is definitely what I’m going to miss,” Hwang said. “Obviously getting into a job environment, you’re not enjoying, I’d say, the social aspects of being with people as much as I did with swimming.”
Ho said even the recent end to the swimming season already has her missing the team.
“Going off of that, it’s been, what, a week and a half?” Ho said. “And yeah, I just feel so disconnected now, cause I don’t see everyone everyday.”
Beyond GW, Hwang and Ho have differing plans for the future. Hwang said he has accepted a job offer in San Jose, California to be closer to his family, while Ho plans to stay in the District after she finishes her graduate studies in December.
Thomas said he hopes Hwang still finds a way to keep some sort of athletic routine in his life, maybe even with triathlons or surfing, whatever keeps him happy despite the distractions of a career.
“I love that kid, man,” Thomas said. “I love him, like just his spirit, his consistency. He just wants to come in and have a good time. And I want to make sure he hangs on to that. I also want to make sure he finds something to fill the void that swimming will leave.”
This article appeared in the March 7, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.