Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Eagle
Delivering American University's news and views since 1925
Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Eagle
malak feature pic

Malak Hassouna: swimming from the Nile to the Potomac

Senior swimmer thrives for AU and Egypt national team

Malak Hassouna’s love for swimming started young — she recalls that the first steps she took as a toddler were on a beach and she started swim classes at two years old. Growing up, Hassouna played an array of sports. She tried basketball, taekwondo, ballet, cheer and tennis, but at around ten she was encouraged by her parents to settle on one sport, and she chose to swim. Hassouna was a champion from the beginning, winning her first heat at her very first competition in California at age nine. Soon after, she returned home to Egypt where she originally learned to swim. 

Hassouna swam for the Egyptian Shooting Club, one of the most prestigious and competitive teams in Egypt. Her impressive records and her young age caught the attention of many in the Egyptian swimming industry, including the national team. Hassouna at age 11 broke the regional record in Egypt for the 50 meter backstroke. Soon after, she ranked third in her age division in the entire country in the 100 backstroke. 

“Egypt is very very competitive,” Hassouna said. She often missed school to train and attend competitions. Hassouna’s dad, who played for the Egyptian national basketball team, was her driving force and kept her motivated. 

“Egypt is where I learned how to swim; Egypt is what made me the swimmer that I am. Egypt is who told me I was good at swimming,” Hassouna said. 

“For the last ten years, I’ve been on the same schedule nearly every day consisting of two practices a day, dry land running and lifting,” Hassouna said. She returned to the United States in middle school and swam for the Irvine Novaquatics in southern California. Along her journey, Alex Nieto, her coach at Irvine Novaquatics, has become one of the most valued people in her life. 

“He has been my guiding person — not only swimming-wise, but in everything — I always want to make him proud in everything I do,” Hassouna said. 

She said he taught her how to love the sport and find the good in swimming but also how to balance her sports, academics and social life. 

During her senior year of high school on a trip to D.C., Hassouna visited American University and met with head swim and dive coach Mark Davin. At the time, she was already committed to Butler University. They discussed her stats and after a three-hour conversation, Davin secured her a spot on the AU team, despite recruiting being completed for the year. Hassouna applied and received acceptance to AU in March 2020, pulling her commitment from Butler. 

“Malak has grown as not only a student-athlete but also a person during her time at American. In the last four years, I’ve seen her grow into an exceptional young adult, and the dedication she’s shown to the swimming & diving team, her teammates, and academics at the university has been outstanding,” swim and dive head coach Garland Bartlett said. “She had to face adversities with injuries and the ability to overcome those challenges along with keeping her dedication to the sport and her teammates is extremely admirable.”

Hassouna’s most memorable AU meet was during her sophomore year conference at the Naval Academy. She set an AU record in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:34.38. Her record and special experience followed a rough patch of training as she  was out of the water for a couple of weeks due to an injury.  

Her time at American wasn't a smooth ride; a labrum tear, and a dislocated shoulder her junior and senior made it difficult. 

“The feeling of being in the water is unmatched,” Hassouna said. 

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Zoe Bell, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Isabelle Kravis. 

Editor’s note: This podcast discusses topics like suicide, sexual abuse and violence.

In this episode of Couch Potatoes, hosts Sydney Hsu and Sara Winick talk about shows that are created to elicit an emotion response from viewers. Listen along as they discuss past and current trends within media, and how they have affected audiences.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Eagle, American Unversity Student Media