Crescenta Valley's Young Tae Seo is the Glendale News-Press' 2011-12 Boys' Athlete of the Year.

Crescenta Valley's Young Tae Seo is the Glendale News-Press' 2011-12 Boys' Athlete of the Year. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / August 22, 2012)

When Young Tae Seo recently took some time to sit down with Glendale News-Press sportswriter Gabriel Rizk for an interview, it was one of the few moments the Crescenta Valley High senior has spent away from a swimming pool over the course of the summer.

Always driven to improve and seldom prone to reflecting on his own numerous accomplishments, Seo trains with Spartan-like discipline and is always chasing a better time when he’s not chasing down wins in competition.

Over the years, Seo’s dedication and intensity has paid off handsomely. In his first two years at Crescenta Valley, the Falcons finished second and third in CIF Southern Section Division II and won Pacific League titles, while Seo himself hauled in a slew of individual championships in league, CIF finals and Masters meets.

This season was Seo’s finest yet, as he won two more CIF individual titles in the 500-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke, but found the most satisfaction in leading the Falcons to their first CIF championship since 2001 with a win over Damien, 301-293. Seo literally brought the win home, as he out touched Damien’s Jason Haney on the anchor leg of the 400-freestyle relay to close out the meet and clinch the crown.

He was voted the All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year for the third straight year and qualified for several events at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, where he didn’t qualify for a final heat, but gained plenty of future motivation.

For his astounding accomplishments during the 2011-12 school year, which also included leading the Falcons to a 20th straight league title, Seo was voted the James H. Jenkins Boys’ Athlete of the Year by the sportswriters and editors of the Glendale News-Press.

The following are excerpts from the interview with Seo.

Gabriel Rizk: It sounds like it’s been a busy summer for you with Olympic Trials in July and lots of training. Did you ever get a break this summer?

Young Tae Seo: I don’t have swim practice this week, which is a break. Well, I am going to go back to the CV pool and try to train Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I’ll have two days off again and then go back to training next Monday. But we weren’t training that much the last couple weeks because it’ the end of the summer, so we were having fun. We played games after practice. I had a meet the first week of August in Fresno, so I just focused on that and after that I went to hang out with my friends. I’ve never done that before in my life. I always train with no break, but this year I’m taking a break and having fun and trying to refocus after this break.

GR: I know there’s times when you’re training harder and really ramping up for a specific event or a meet and then there’s other times where it’s less intense. Can you describe your training routine at its busiest?

YS: When it’s the busiest, we have morning practice Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then we have all afternoon Monday through Friday. Monday is about 40 minutes of weight training and then swim until 7 [p.m.] every single day. Tuesday is with dry land for about an hour and then swim until 7 after that, so basically Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon is weight training with swimming and then Tuesday and Thursday is dry land with swimming and Saturday morning will be sometimes dry land, sometimes weights for an hour and a half and swim from 7:15 to 11. Basically, we have [training] every single day except for Sunday.

GR: What do you do on Sundays, rest?

YS: Well I used to go to the YMCA and work out, but a year ago I stopped doing it because my doctor said my body needed rest to recover. I still go hiking with my dad, but now I just get kind of lazy now, stay home, watch TV, computer.

GR: That’s a pretty intense regiment. What’s your motivation to get up and do that every day? How do you stay with it?

YS: If you drop time at the end of the season, you get more motivation. Breaking a record is the most motivation and beating people who are faster than me by a lot and then catching up to them and beating them, that’s the most motivation to me.

And racing is fun, it’s the funnest thing ever when you swim, but swim practice you hang out with other friends. Just having a fun practice is the most motivation. When it’s painful or you’re out of breath, that’s kind of a good feeling to me.

GR: So, basically, you’re putting in months of work all toward maybe a minute or so of swimming in that one race. Is there a lot of pressure in that, when you actually get to that race, do you say, ‘This is what I’ve spent so much time and energy on, I have to have a perfect race.’ Do you feel pressure in that moment because of all that time you’ve spent?

YS: I feel pressure when I didn’t work hard because I didn’t put in enough energy during practice. But when I put 100% of my energy into it in practice it feels like I can do this, it’s not going to be hard.

GR: When did you first start swimming?