Gabriel Andra: Trading in Soccer for Swimming

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Gabriel Andra: Trading in Soccer for Swimming

The Niles West swim team poses for a picture. Juinor Gabriel Andra pictured in the middle front row.

The Niles West swim team poses for a picture. Juinor Gabriel Andra pictured in the middle front row.

The Niles West swim team poses for a picture. Juinor Gabriel Andra pictured in the middle front row.

The Niles West swim team poses for a picture. Juinor Gabriel Andra pictured in the middle front row.

By Stefan Simic, Staff Writer

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Niles West has tons of unique people from all different backgrounds, countries, and heritages. Many of these students possess a skill or trait that helps define who they are — whether it is excelling academically, athletically, or socially. Junior Gabriel Andra dove into athletics his freshman year and has never looked back.

Since he was a child, Andra has participated in a variety of sports, specifically swimming and soccer. As he got older he realized that swimming was something he wanted to take to the next level, so he dropped soccer and began to focus solely on swimming.

“I first got into swim lessons, after that, I started to get good so I switched to a club team called Swift Aquatics. I’ve been at Swift ever since, and I realized I wasn’t that fast. I started to put in lots of work and I’ve been doing that to this day trying to achieve my goals,” Andra said. “My parents influenced me a lot because my mom really wanted me to do it and over time I grew a passion for it.”

Since he began swimming competitively, Andra noticed that he was changing — physically and mentally.

“Swimming changed me by making me skinny for starters. If I didn’t swim I would out of shape because I love to eat,” Andra said. “Swimming also influenced me to plan out my days and make priorities, because I was going to get tired from practice, school, and church every day. I learned how to manage my time, and swimming allowed me to do that at a very young age.”

Swimming also gave Andra a mentality that many people strive to attain. His mental toughness attributes to his happiness and resilience when times are tough.

“Swimming gave me a mentality that anything is possible and achievable through hard work and time management. I used to procrastinate a lot, and that had to change because everything became hard to manage,” he said. “Also, sleep is a big factor in managing everything. I try to get seven to eight hours a night, which gives me the energy to do everything and stay on top of things,”

Andra also credits God for getting him through his toughest times. His firm beliefs reassure him that everything is going to be fine, no matter the circumstances.

“Finally, believing in God and having faith in him allows me to not stress or have anxiety over anything, because I know it will all work out,” Andra said.

Andra has also built a quite a reputation at West. Whether it’s being the comedian of the class or the person that gets stuff done.

“Gabe is honestly one of the funniest people I’ve met, ” junior Andi Veseli said. “He can make me laugh literally anytime, even if I’m having a bad day. Just seeing him the hallways can put a smile on my face.”

Veseli isn’t the only one who thinks this way. Junior Samir Ozaki not only finds Andra funny but a person he can trust with anything.

“I find it so easy to talk to Gabe about my problems, whether it’s about school or my own problems,” Ozaki said. “He helped me through some of my toughest times, and showed me that if I put in work, anything can be accomplished.”

Teammate and junior Adrian Acosta has known Andra for about seven years, and they’ve built an unbreakable bond and an everlasting friendship.

“Gabe was one of my first friends on my club swim team,” Acosta said. “I joined the team fairly late and being from a school that no one went to I had no friends. I was a shy kid and at that time in my life I struggled with making friends. Gabe was the first person to approach me and we clicked, we’ve been friends ever since.”

If you see a six foot two inch junior in the hallway, bearing a smile or just laughing uncontrollably, make sure to say hi, you might make a lifelong friend.