Kimura leaves laudable wake in Tufts swimming

Graduating senior co-captain Anna Kimura poses for a portrait in Hamilton Pool on May 2. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, important milestones for most two-year-old children include walking alone and using two- to four-word sentences. By that point in her life, Anna Kimura was already learning how to swim.

My mom asked if I could enroll early because I think you had to be three, the graduating senior co-captain explained. And then I just learned how to swim.

When she was seven, Kimura started competing on a summer swim team. At age eight, she joined a year-round club team, thereby committing herself to the sport full-time. As she grew older, the Bellevue, Wash. native began accumulating accolades. During her senior year at Interlake High School, Kimura served as one of the swim team’s co-captains and won its Most Valuable Player award.

The following year, Kimura moved over 3,000 miles to make Medford her new home. She made a big splash in her first year as a Jumbo: In the 200-meter breaststroke final at the 2015 NESCAC Championships, Kimura broke the school record with a time of 2:21.94. Her performance earned her a sixth-place finish and an NCAA B cut — a national qualifying standard.

In 2016 and 2017 Kimura again reached the finals of the 200 breaststroke at NESCACs, finishing eighth and 11th, respectively. Going into senior year, she had a clear goal in mind: perform well enough at the NESCAC Championships to qualify for the NCAA Div. III Championships.

One of the biggest memories [from being on the team] is [competing] at NESCACs, Kimura said. Every year, NESCACs is really fun, and everyone comes together really well.

The meet’s 2018 iteration had particular resonance for the Kimura.

This year was special because it was my last time there, and all the seniors that were on the NESCAC team were just having a good time, she explained. We were all enjoying ourselves together, and I think that just made it that much more special.

Boosted by the camaraderie, Kimura shined at her final conference meet, as she led the Jumbos to a fourth-place finish — their best showing in five years. Kimura finished second in the 200-meter breaststroke and sixth in the 200-meter individual medley, and her 400-yard medley relay quartet also achieved a fifth-place result.

Kimura was the women’s team’s sole representative at the NCAA Div. III Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., competing in three events: the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard breaststroke.

“Nationals was really fun,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect because I was the only woman there, and I was with 11 other guys.”

Fortunately, Kimura soon realized that she had little to worry about, as the men’s team included her in a lot of their activities. It also helped that she had her own traveling cheering section.

A couple of my women’s teammates came, [as did] one of the alums that I’m really good friends with, so I was able to spend time with them, she said. My mom also came, so in the end, I had a lot of support.

In the final meet of her collegiate career, Kimura’s best results came in the 200 breaststroke, as she regained her place atop the Medford record books from Amanda Gottschalk (LA ’17). After breaking Gottschalk’s school record in the preliminary heat with a time of 2:18.52, Kimura came in 12th place with a 2:19.28 showing in the final round to garner honorable mention All-American honors. Though she did not reach the finals in either of her other races, Kimura improved on her seed time in the 100 breaststroke and nearly did so in the 200 IM.

I’m really happy with how I performed, she said. I feel like it was just a really great end to my season.

Beyond her performances in the pool, Kimura is particularly proud of her status as one of the team’s three captains, alongside fellow graduating seniors Alli Dorneo and Jess Lee.

It’s really been an honor to be captain and just be able to help lead the team in positive ways,” she said. We’ve tried really hard to place a lot [of emphasis] on how we have high values in terms of what we expect from everybody. I think it shined through this year, and it’s just been really great to see everyone grow and come together.

Though her days of competing have come to a close, Kimura will have no trouble staying afloat in the years ahead. While at Tufts, she majored in Child Study and Human Development and minored in Asian American studies. Her senior thesis was a case study of a new anti-bias curriculum used at a Boston-area elementary school. Kimura hopes to pursue further opportunities for early childhood research after graduation.