Meet US National Team member AJ Pouch

AJ pouch
Henderson, Nev.
Stroke/IM
Senior

1. At what age did you start swimming? What made you decide to start?

AP: I was actually forced to swim when I was 12. The reason it was swimming and not any other sport was because my twin sister, rose bagShe was on a club team and my mother liked her job. After a few meetings I realized that I really liked this sport and wanted to pursue it further.

2. Who inspired you as a young athlete?

AP: When I started my swimming career, the Rio 2016 Olympics were coming up and the swimmer I really wanted to be was Kevin Cordes, an American record holder, two-time Olympic champion and gold medalist. I actually had the opportunity to compete against him when I was in school and he came up to me in the ready room before our race in the finals and told me good luck and he hit me with his fist. After that moment I knew I wanted to be like him and our coach here, Sergio Lopez MiroHe was once his coach! I knew I made the right choice to be a hokie.

3. How did Virginia Tech develop you as a student-athlete to prepare you for this opportunity?

AP: Virginia Tech, this team and staff have helped me grow as a student-athlete by instilling in me the drive and will to want it. Before I decided to become a hokie I told Sergio my goals in the pool and I believed in him. I knew he would have my back every step of the way and then step foot on campus and like great people Danny White also behind me just drives me to want more and do it as a hokie.

4. If you were a child and saw where you are today, how would you react?

AP: My younger self wouldn’t believe where we are. I never imagined that I would be a top international athlete, ranked in the top 20 in the world. We started from the bottom in Las Vegas to reach the top of the world!

5. Who are your biggest supporters?

AP: I know my mom says she’s my biggest supporter, but I truly believe my twin sister Rose is my biggest supporter. She acts like she doesn’t care but without her I wouldn’t even be in this sport. I don’t know what I would do without her. She’s the ONLY person I would cheer for behind my lane.

6. What do you think was your biggest challenge in terms of your achievements?

AP: My biggest challenge to my ultimate goal would be for the United States to be the fastest country in the world, and trying to represent it or make an international team is extremely competitive. But I’m also my biggest critic, which makes even the small victories challenging.

7. What is the best thing about the competition?

AP: I get the adrenaline behind the blocks. I love it when the crowd cheers and then goes so quiet you can hear a pin drop before they start the race. Then I can see how my work pays off in practice or see results. But nothing beats competing with my brothers here at VT. There’s no other group of guys that I want to compete with.

8. What do you do after a good performance? Do you have any traditions?

AP: I love being the center of attention, so after a good race or something big, I try to make a scene so all eyes are on me. It varies with each meeting.

9. Describe your reaction when you first learned that you had been selected for the US national team.

AP: My jaw dropped. I was completely speechless. I immediately told my coaches here, my coaches at home and my family. I was so dizzy I just had to keep going. I’m starting to see my dreams coming true and I just want to keep the momentum going.

10. How will being part of the US National Team help your future?

AP: Being a part of the US national team will help my future because in addition to the support VT gives me in pursuing my goals, the additional help from USA Swimming in Colorado Springs and the opportunity to use the US Olympic Training Center using whenever i please please will benefit me in the long run and my dream of becoming an Olympian.

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