There are two things students at UT probably do not know much about: the daily routine of a college swimmer and what it is like to experience many different cultures for extended periods of time.
Tristan Slater knows quite a bit about both.
Born in Hong Kong, Slater is a swimmer for UT's men's swimming and diving team. He has lived in six different countries, including England and Vietnam.
How he began to swim is as interesting as the fact that he has lived in six different countries.
Slater said that he started swimming when he was four, after he broke his arm and used time in the pool to rehabilitate.
"The only way for my physical therapy to get my arm better was to swim," Slater said.
Not only does Slater have to maintain a strict routine that includes five hours of swimming on some days, 20 hours of swimming in a week and a diet that closely monitors what he eats – one that forces him to consume more than 4,000 calories a day – but he also has to learn how to adjust to American culture, which he's learned is no easy accomplishment.
"The biggest shock was the U.S culture; out of all the countries that was definitely the biggest one," Slater said. "I don't know how to describe it, the culture here is very in your face, I guess. I really love how determined Americans are to succeed. I think it has really rubbed off onto to me since I have been here, how Americans are always looking to be the best. I think that demonstrates how good they are in sports. That is essentially why I came here, for the desire to succeed and for the desire to work."
Slater also mentioned how much he has enjoyed being on the swim team and how his teammates have helped his transition into America.
"Essentially the swim team here is pretty much family – family away from home," Slater said. "I remember my freshman year, I really was struggling with homesickness, but I had a lot of juniors and seniors around to help me her. Just having that support group here is great."
Although Slater has enjoyed living in America and being on the swim team at UT, that it is not restraining his desire to continue traveling the world.
"I am not planning to stop exploring," he said. "I am still hoping to live in different places; I still want to travel the world."
But overall, Slater still seems satisfied with his choice of both swimming and living in an unfamiliar culture.
His results in the pool are certainly notable. Slater finished second in the 200 yard butterfly, second in the 200 yard butterfly and third in the 200 yard individual medley at the Indiana & Kentucky meet on Friday.
"It is a challenge, but exciting." Slater said. "It was really worth it. I benefited from taking the leap of faith to go to America."