All-American from swim team transfers

LOOKING AHEAD -- Yingfei Alice Zhang competes in the 100-yard individual medley in the 2014 CCCAA State Championships earning National All-American in the process. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)
LOOKING AHEAD -- Yingfei Alice Zhang competes in the 100-yard individual medley in the 2014 CCCAA State Championships earning National All-American in the process. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)

MONTEREY PARK, CA — East Los Angeles College National and California Community College California Association All-American Yingfei Alice Zhang received academic and sports scholarships from California State University, East Bay and will attend classes there in the fall.

“It’s a big decision for me, but one made from the (comradery) and support I have received from the Cal State East Bay Swim Team Coaches and team members,” said Zhang, who is from China, where she graduated from high school. “They are so nice to me and friendly and help me understand things with the transfer.”

“I am nervous about the move, but realized that at some point, we must step out of our comfort zone to reach life (goals).”

Zhang was National All-American 11 times.

In 2015, she was National All-American in the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststrokes and in three ELAC relay teams, the 200-yard & 400-yard medley relays and the 200 freestyle relay.

In 2014, Zhang was National All-American in the 50-yard & 100-yard butterfly events, the 50 & 100 breaststroke events and the 100 Individual Medley.

In 2015. Zhang was CCCAA All-American in the above-mentioned relays as well as the 400 free relay and in three individual events, the 200 IM, the 100 breast and the 200 breast.

In the CCCAA State Championships, Zhang was runner-up in 2015 in the 100 & 200 breast events and the 200 IM. In 2014, she was the runner-up in the 100 IM.

She was a South Coast Conference champion three times, the breast event in 2015, and the 50 breast and 50 fly in 2014. She was SCC runner-up three times— in the 400 IM, 100 breast in 2015, and she was the 100-yard butterfly runner up in 2014.

Zhang has the SCC Championships meet record in the 200 breaststroke.

She said she was an ELAC student first, and then joined the swim team with the help of Track & Field Coach Louis Ramirez.

“He talked to me and introduced me to Coach Erik (Matheson) and everything happened from there,” said Zhang.

Zhang mentioned that Coach Erik (Matheson), the ELAC Swim & Dive program and other programs at ELAC helped guide her to where she is today.

“Before joining the swim program, I didn’t speak English as good as I do now; everything was new to me and difficult. The ELAC programs helped me a lot – with academics, to be a lifeguard, to continue to be on the swim team with my classes, doing community service and about life.

Zhang was an Assistant Instructor for swimming classes at ELAC.

“This too was a challenge because of my English, teaching many people at once and I had to adjust my ways to help people who were not swimmers. It took a lot of adaptation to understand culture differences. Everything is different than in China, Teaching people who are not swimmers was a different experience for me and I’m thankful I had the opportunity,” said Zhang.

Zhang said she wants to thank professors, coaches from other sports, staff and students who helped along the way with everything. She also reflected on her swim career at ELAC.

“I would say that the second state meet (in 2015) was better for the team, me and Wenning (Shen) because of our placements,” said Zhang. Both Zhang and All-American Wenning Shen qualified in the individual maximum three events. 

“But my favorite moments on the swim team was the relay teams making it to state. This is more important than my individual (events), and was so important for the team,” said Zhang.

According to Zhang, she looks forward to being a member of the Cal State East Bay swimming team and says the main reason she is transferring is to continue her education she started at ELAC.


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