Winter Sport Senior Athlete Profile: Joe Lifrak ’21


Joe Lifrak ’21 Courtesy of Ross LaDue

Annie O'Donnell , Columnist

Joe Lifrak ’21 is a biology major and classics minor from Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He is one of four captains of the Union Varsity Swimming and Diving Teams.

Q: Can you briefly explain how you got started in swimming and what was your experience like before Union?

I swam when I was younger but didn’t start until high school.  I joined a local club team which really helped me improve my stroke.  Swimming was a stress reliever for me in high school.

Q:  How has your athletic experience been at Union and what is the difference between your prior experience and college?

I have really enjoyed my athletic experience at Union.  I had a falling out with swimming my sophomore year but have really come to enjoy the sport.

Q: Do you have any pre-meet rituals?

I always listen to some of my favorite music before I race.  It lets me focus on nothing else but the race, letting me visualize what I’m about to do.  I also do a breathing technique before my sprints so I can have better control of holding my breath.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the sport?

Since I was a kid my parents have instilled in me this competitive drive, so I’ve always loved to race and compete.  Just like high school, it is a way for me to relieve stress and do something I enjoy.

Q: What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far? 

My junior year I came back from a term abroad and rejoined the team late in the season.  I was really proud of how the team did with small numbers.  We were able to place well and I was able to drop time which I was extremely proud of.  

Q: What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about your sport?

How boring staring at the bottom of the pool can get sometimes, but it allows me to really clear my head and focus on what I’m doing in the water.

QHow do you think your sport has influenced your experience at Union?

Without swimming, I wouldn’t have such an amazing support system.  The swim team is like family to me and I know that we always have each other’s backs.  I can’t imagine my college life without the swim team. 

Q: What will you miss about being on a team at Union?

I will miss the camaraderie with my teammates and competing. 

Q: Any advice to younger athletes? 

Things will get tough and your body may ache but don’t give up.  It is always darkest before the dawn, so keep your head up and push through.  (Yes this is from batman but it’s a dope quote!) 

Q: What is your favorite thing to eat on campus? 

The breakfast wraps from Dutch are my favorite!

Q: What is your favorite thing about Union?

The people I have met at Union are some of the best I have ever met.  I think it’s a rare thing to find good people and I have found that here. 

QWhat is your favorite restaurant in Schenectady and why? 

I love Druthers! The BBQ mac and cheese is to die for! 

Q: What is a fun fact about you that most people don’t know? 

My dogs are show dogs.  One of them has been to Westminster!  Credit to my brother who does the training for them!  He really works hard!  Their names are Jangles and Junior. 

Q:  Who serves as your biggest inspiration?

My parents are my biggest inspiration.  They have had incredible journeys to where they are now and have been the perfect role models for me.  I couldn’t ask for better parents to guide and support me. 

Q:  What are your goals after graduation/ any post-graduation plans? 

I have a job lined up with a medical device company for when I graduate which I am extremely excited about!