Student Athlete of the Week – ODU’s Yesse Giresunlu

She is considered one of the young guns in the pool – Yesim Giresunlu, or as her friends call her, Yesse. She jumped in the pool at the age of five when her father taught her how to swim – two years later, she joined a swim team and fell in the love with the sport.

“My parents didn’t believe this would last long – they thought three months and that would be it – then she would be done with it,” she says.

Three months and 12 years later, Yesse is still making waves. The sophomore from Istanbul, Turkey says she likes swimming for Old Dominion because of the team aspect.

“At home, swimming is an individual sport, it is all about you, the pressure is on to perform, but here it is more team – you compete as a team – meaning you compete to make the team better – that’s why I love swimming here because I love being a team member.”

How does she react when people say swimming is easy?

“It’s heartbreaking not to be recognized from other people – hey, I’m a swimmer and they look at you and say, oh – okay! And I’m like, no we work so hard for this, you just don’t know.”

Talk about putting in the hours – listen to this – she practices two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, plus weights five days a week.

Still not convinced? Try jumping in the pool and do 66 laps . . . then do it under 17 minutes – that comes out to 15 seconds a lap. Yesse can – in fact, she set the Old Dominion record for the 1650 freestyle. Setting records is not the reason she puts in 20 hours of practice in the pool – it’s to beat her own time.

“That’s the challenge of swimming – you have to get prepared – you have to be prepared at all times – you have to give 100 percent because if you only give 99 percent then you will not make your time.”

Time is her competitor – and as a reminder – her record breaking time is posted on the wall in the pool.

“Definitely flattering to see your name on the record board and know how hard you worked to get on the board – I like it – it is definitely a motivator for me to beat my time next time out.”

Does she ever just stare at the board?

“A couple of time – I glance at it – I get a smile – and say, yeah that’s me.”

The school records are not the only ones with her name on it – she set multiple records for her home country in the 400, 800, and 1500 free.

She hasn’t been back home in almost a year. She misses spending time with her parents and eating Turkish food, but she counts on her team to fill that void.

“We are like family – if one has a bad day – we all have a bad day – if one breaks a record – we all break a record – that’s the best part of being part of this ODU swim team.”

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