Hao Luong shines for UMass men’s swimming and diving on Senior Day, prepares for end of college career

By Victor Pusateri

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

On Sunday, Jan. 18, the Massachusetts men’s swimming and diving team defeated Bryant 170-122 in its Senior Day meet.

It’s the final chapter in many of the seniors’ collegiate swimming stories. Hao Luong’s story stands out from the rest, however.

Luong grew up in Vietnam before moving to Malden in 2008. It was a dramatic change for Luong, who said he came to America for a better education, free high school and enhanced job opportunities.

He grew up a swimmer in Vietnam but didn’t start to competitively swim until he moved to the United States.

“I only swam (non-competitively) in Vietnam,” Luong said. “Once I got to (America) I signed up for a program and that (got) me here.”

Luong decided to continue his education and swimming career at the University of Massachusetts as a freshman in 2011. Now as a senior, he majors in mathematics.

Although Luong has been living in the U.S. since 2008, he didn’t gain full citizenship until two years ago, which he said was a momentous occasion.

“I felt success,” Luong replied when asked how it felt to become a legal U.S. citizen.

On senior day, Luong did much more than swim. He was given the opportunity to show off his vocals and pride for his new country as he sang the national anthem during the opening ceremonies before the meet.

“It shows I’m a true citizen. I have (a) responsibility for this country,” Luong said. “It also shows that I’m a proud American.”

Luong had an impressive afternoon in the pool as well, winning multiple events including the 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter backstroke. He also served as the leadoff swimming in the 200-meter medley relay team that placed first.

It was a bittersweet day for Luong, as he said he’s happy to see his swimming career come to an end on a high note but isn’t quite ready for it to finish.

“I feel happy a little bit because I’ve been swimming for 12 years but I also felt sad because I will have to leave my UMass swimming family in a couple of weeks,” he said.

Reminiscing about his college career, Luong said that it was a good experience overall.

“When I first signed up for this school I knew it was going to be a great adventure,” he said. “I have nothing to complain about my four years here.”

“My friends are great, academics are good, the food is great.”

Luong said he’ll miss both classes and the pool.

“Being able to go to class every day is like an enjoyment to me,” he said. “I know what it’s like to stay home and do nothing and I don’t like it. So I will miss going to classes and practice the most.”

Luong said his fondest memories include him competing at the Atlantic 10 championships. He didn’t have a specific recollection in mind but he said swimming in those competitions were his favorite.

He and the rest of the men’s swimming and diving team still have more opportunities to create memorable moments, as the A-10 championships begin in February.

Victor Pusateri can be reached at [email protected]