Image Courtesy of Catholic University Athletics
By Katie Van Lew
Strength, dedication, consistency, and perseverance: these are a few of the many admirable qualities that describe Catholic University senior, Christopher Grunbok. From Poughkeepsie, New York, Grunbok had spent his high school athletic career swimming for his club team, the Hudson Valley Dolphins. After years of dedicating his efforts to refining his skills and stroke in the water, Grunbok’s hard work had not gone unnoticed; by his senior year, he had committed to Catholic University.
“I chose to swim at CUA for a few reasons,” Grunbok said. “First was that I was used to living a regimented life before college. Making a transition to a new environment and completely getting rid of something I was comfortable with – getting energy out, staying in shape, eating well – would probably have made me pretty lazy and ultimately not do as well as I have in school so far despite having less on my plate. When there’s a lot to get done it’s like the stakes are high so I tell myself ‘It’s time to get to work.’ Second was that swimming was where I made a lot of my friends at home, being homeschooled. I was used to those types of people so I sort of figured I would have a similar experience making friends on another team; I was pretty much right. It was also almost a safety net, sort of a group I knew I could go back to when I tried making friends outside of swimming. Of course, it ended up being my main group. Third was simply that I enjoyed it. I hated seeing slow times throughout the season, but the feeling and sound of the water rushing past your head when you’re going fast at the end of the year is a wholly different type of satisfaction.”
At the end of each season, nominations for team captains are collected, and senior athletes are typically elected by underclassmen swimmers and coaches. Going into his senior year, Grunbok was nominated as captain of the men’s swimming and diving team. This honor is revelatory of the esteemable quality and character of Grunbok, who has shown incredible dedication to the sport all while supporting his teammates throughout his career.
Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic compromising athletics, Grunbok continued to set an example for teammates by continuously showing up for himself and his teammates, especially in regards to practicing.
“Showing up to practice every day was the best thing I could do,” Grunbok said. “I wanted to show that even though we were practicing less than half as much as we normally would, it’s still worth going and getting what you can out of it. Freshmen want to see that I think, and it’s a good way to get them in the same mentality so they carry it on in the team when upperclassmen leave.”
In all aspects of life, Grunbok has upheld an unwavering discipline and tenacity. In and out of the pool, it is visibly evident that the athlete puts in 110% energy and power into his craft. When he is not training in the pool, Grunbok goes the extra mile, integrating workouts such as boxing, lifting, and rowing into his lifestyle to push himself to be the best athlete he can possibly be. With Grunbok, there is certain perseverance and will-power akin to him that makes him such an exemplary athlete. And through his diligence, his unbreakable will to be greatness in every sense of the term, Grunbok has proven time and time again that hard work and passion are the driving forces of success.
Decorated in accolades, Grunbok is a CSCAA All American Athlete, and a winner of the 200-yard breaststroke at the Landmark Conference Championship meet for both his junior and senior year at Catholic University. Grunbok has been able to achieve his personal best times at university in both his 100-yard breaststroke (56.83) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:03.75). These impressive personal records are well deserved for an individual that consistently strives to be the person he can be, in and out of the pool.
In regards to the pinnacle of his swimming career at Catholic, Grunbok notes that his 200-yard breaststroke at the 2020 Landmark Conference Championships takes the cake.
“I’ll be a little selfish here, but winning the 200 breaststroke my junior year after being quiet and under the radar 2 years and being able to splash the water was something I had waited for for a long time,” said Grunbok. “I put in a lot of planning outside of the pool, and it just came to a head right there.”
Aside from earning both team and personal achievements in the pool, Grunbok is equally as dedicated as a scholar. During his academic career at Catholic University, Grunbok has pursued his career in mechanical engineering. Throughout his career as a student, Grunbok has been recognized for his excellence in academics, especially through the honor of making Dean’s List every semester since his freshman year. After graduating, Grunbok hopes to focus his pursuits on hypersonics, working with high-speed aircraft and missiles. With the responsibility of committing oneself to both academics and a sport, Grunbok accredits his successes with self-awareness and openness to criticism that allows him to work on being the best version of himself day in and day out.
“Always reevaluate yourself after seeing your own performance,” Grunbok said. “Take a look back on what you did, see how good it was but also see that you could still be even better. I still watch that 200 breaststroke race and critique it. It doesn’t have to be a competition performance or some big showing, it could be your everyday life. That’s a hard thing to put into practice and actually be proactive about it. Even though I don’t always do it, I have certainly experienced a little bit of what happens when you do.”
In any setting, whether it be academic or athletic, there will always be an individual that others admire and aspire to be — Christopher Grunbok is one of those people.