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Yichi Zhang Headed to Columbia University

Talented and decorated student-athlete, Yichi Zhang is heading south of the border to continue his academic and athletic career in The Big Apple.

The Grade 12 student plans to pursue a degree in statistics from Columbia University while also competing on their swim team.

SMCS student-athlete Yichi Zhang at OFSAA after winning two gold medals. SMCS student-athlete Yichi Zhang with his CISAA Championship gold medals.

“I love the team atmosphere; it is a mix of fun and hard work. After staying with the team for a couple of days, I knew it was the right fit for me,” says Zhang. “I expect to compete in sprint fly and free (50- and 100-fly and free), and maybe some relays!”

The school’s campus and curriculum were among the many reasons Zhang committed to study at Columbia.

“Columbia provides students with many different perspectives. All students engage within the core curriculum, creating a unique learning environment in which a STEM education can be influenced and shaped by a moral and ethical lens,” he says. “As people can see from the full name of the school, Columbia University in the city of New York, having the opportunity to study in the most culturally diverse city in the world has been a long-held dream of mine.”

Zhang began his competitive swimming career at age eight in Shanghai.

“It was definitely challenging for an elementary school student, but I learned a lot of valuable skills from the experience. Right now, I swim for Ramac Aquatic Club, which is a small club, but has one of the best sprint coaches in the country.”

Since starting to swim in Canada, Zhang has won multiple provincial and even national awards in the events that he regularly swims—mainly 50—and 100-freestyle. In addition, Zhang is one of the provincial record holders in the 4×50 free relay.

Yichi Zhang, Gr. 12, with Alex Frescura and Principal Pat Daly.

“I also recently placed third in the 50-free and the 4×100 free relay at the 2023 Junior Canadian Nationals,” says Zhang.

“Yichi’s quiet, calm, but determined approach to all his races this year reveals an athlete committed to success at the top, with a perfect combination of incredible talent, hard work, and mental strength,” says Gene Neto, swim coach and regular guest teacher at SMCS. “It is always amazing to watch Yichi glide effortlessly in the pool against his competitors.”

At SMCS, Zhang has been an integral member of the school’s swim team, recently capturing three gold medals in the 2024 CISAA Championships and two gold medals at OFSAA.

“Competing for St. Mike’s has always been fun, whether it’s the CISAA final or OFSAA,” he says. “I’m glad I could win two OFSAA medals for St. Mike’s in my last year.”

Related links:

SMCS Athletics


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