It's a scientific fact that water makes up roughly 70 percent of an adult's body. Between 70-75 percent of the Earth's surface is made up of water. For Sarah Kaneshiki, there were probably days where water consumed her life closer to 100 percent.
"I've been swimming since second grade in the [Hollidaysburg] YMCA program. When I first started, it was probably around three days a week. I've been going year round ever since," explained the Hollidaysburg senior, who will compete for the final time this weekend at states in the PIAA Class AAA championships. She's also swimming competitively for the final time, too.
Kaneshiki has turned down offers, including some scholarship offers, to swim in college. She wants to focus strictly on academics since her major will be either pre-med or engineering.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Hollidaysburg’s Sarah Kaneshiki lifts up her goggles and checks her time in a recent 200 IM event.
"I have been swimming for so long ... it is a lot of time, especially in college," Kaneshiki said. "With colleges at the Division I level, you are looking at practicing every morning and every evening, and they even have more on top of that."
Right now, Kaneshiki is trying to get into Duke, which she calls her top choice. She won't know until April.
"It's been nerve racking," she said, knowing in the back of her mind she is giving up free schooling for a life of paying back college loans.
Sarah's father, Dr. Neil Kaneshiki, was in a similar situation when he was in high school. Because his mother worked at Rutgers University, he could have gone there for a lot less than what it cost for him to go to Ursinus College.
"My mother didn't lay a heavy hand on me to go [to Rutgers], but Ursinus boasted an 89 percent acceptance rate into medical school," he recalls.
Both Neil and his wife, Lois, admiringly are a little disappointed Sarah - a four-time PIAA state qualifier - will not swim in college because, as Neil says, "she has such a natural talent for it."
But there has been no pressure to get her to go the swimming route to college.
"It is her decision and with what she wants to get into, medicine or engineering, I don't know how much time she would have to devote to sports in addition to her studies," Neil Kaneshiki said.
Hollidaysburg coach Deb Solomon, who calls Sarah one of the top three swimmers she has coached in her 15 years with the Tiger program, admitted she was a little surprised when she heard Sarah would give up swimming competitively. However ...
"But when she said she wanted to be a doctor, that makes sense because it takes a lot of dedication and study time, and swimming takes up so much time and dedication in college," Solomon said. "Because of the goals she has made for herself, it makes sense."
Sarah said swimming started to become "a little too much" after her sophomore season.
"I didn't really sit down [with my parents] and talk to them about it, but I think they knew I was kind of getting tired of it," she said. "I think I made it clear I probably wasn't going to swim in college."
Neil believes his daughter will be happy with her decision and not be a person who has any regrets down the road.
"I think she will commit to her school work, but I think she will swim recreationally. That would be my prediction," he said.
When asked if she'll miss swimming after her final 500 freestyle performance this weekend, Sarah said, "I'll have to see. I probably will miss it. I still like swimming and I will miss the competitive edge at the meets, the good feeling after practice, but you know what, I need a break."