By Enno Behrens, Summer Times Staff Writer
As every year, there are great athletes of many sports at Exeter Summer. One of them this year is Berfin Erdogan, an Exeter Summer student, who is a Junior Olympic swimmer from Istanbul, Turkey. She’s been swimming since she was three years old.
“When I was little, I was swimming and I had so much fun”, said Berfin, “so I wanted to swim in a club and become a swimmer.” So when she was five years old she joined a Turkish swimming club called Galatasaray. She has trained there every day, up to four hours. Normally she even started before school, at 5 a.m., for one hour.
“I have like one hour of Dryland, then we do two hours of swimming and then one hour of Dryland again.” “Dryland” are workout exercises for swimmers that are not done in the water.
The girl from Dunbar Hall also trains here in Exeter for 1 hour every day and takes part in the competitive swimming class. To prepare for a competition, she eats carbohydrates like pasta 2 hours before the race and doesn’t drink too much water. To prepare mentally, she tells herself that she has to give her best, but doesn’t listen to music or do any other special things. With time and practice she became better and better.
“I had teammates and it was so much fun to swim with them,” says Berfin about the time in her Turkish club. But she left it when she was in 8th grade as she moved to Sun Diego, CA., which is about one hour away from Los Angeles. There she joined a swimming club called North Coast Aquatics (NCA). “NCA has placed hundreds of swimmers into elite college programs”, according to its website, “and countless others have competed internationally, including competitions in Australia, Canada, Sweden, France, Japan, China, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, and Brazil.”
After she had just arrived there, she took part in a Junior Olympics Max, a qualifying race for the Junior Olympics in a 50-meter pool. She started swimming there in the C-Section as she was new there and “didn’t go to any meeting before that.” But she was good and got medals there so she moved to A-Section, which is the best. Also in that race, she made her best times and so got qualified for the real Junior Olympics when she was only 14 years old. The organizers told her coach about that and the coach told her.
“I was so happy because I never joined an Olympic before.”, said Berfin. Only 3 other people from her club have also made it to the Junior Olympics. She “felt so special” about that. So she participated in the Junior Olympics in 2017. They took part all over the United States, but the Swimming Contest was in her new Hometown, San Diego.
In the Junior Olympics, she won 5 silver medals and 1 gold medal. The silver medals for 100 meters butterfly, for 50 meters butterfly, for 200 meters free, for 100 meters breaststroke and for 200 meters medley. The gold medal, she won for 200 meters butterfly. In that race, she also broke a 14-year old record of her club.
For her, the Junior Olympics are the biggest achievement of her career yet, and might be the biggest achievement of her whole career too. “I don’t want to go to the real Olympics”, says Berfin. “I don’t want to workout for that, it’s so hard to get in.” Already now she is just swimming as a hobby and not training and swimming on a professional level for a professional competition anymore.
“I want to go to university to study architecture”, said Berfin, “probably in Italy or in England, I’m not sure, but in Europe.” Swimming, she says, is going to take too much time when she goes to the university. School is more important for her, but of course she will go on swimming as a hobby, she says. However, she has achieved big things in swimming, also if she will not make it to the real Olympics.