Nyah Funderburke is a Big Ten Champion from Ohio State University, where her father led the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title in basketball three decades prior. While she comes from a family of athletes, swimming was an unexpected choice and she came to the sport a bit later than many of her peers. She says, “My experience swimming was very different since I was a little late to the game. Starting at age 12 pushed me to work hard and keep up with, then pass, people in my lane.”
Embracing the hard work and dedication that swimming requires at a young age served Nyah well in her collegiate career where she went from an unranked high school recruit and off-the-roster team member her freshman year to Big Ten Champion during her sophomore year. She says, “I didn’t know what to expect my freshman year on the swim team at Ohio State; the training was different, and challenging, and I hit a wall both mentally and physically. Connecting with the team and focusing on my strengths gave me the resolve to come back stronger my sophomore year. That’s when I won the Big Ten title in the 100-yard backstroke.”
Nyah reminds Fitter and Faster camp participants that, “swimming is a team sport until you step up on the blocks alone; you can lean on others for support but it is up to you, the individual, to produce success.” Nyah shares her tips for success, which include focusing on two or three things at practice, rather than on hitting specific times, as improving technique will help swimmers grow as athletes.
Nyah welcomes the unique opportunity she has to be a role model. “At a young age, I realized swimming is a predominantly white sport. As a black female, I want to be a role model for young black swimmers. That is incredibly important to me, and why I continue to swim and why I love to swim.”