Featured Freshman Friday: Lydia Pocisk

Many student-athletes spend their final year of high school searching for the perfect college with a team that feels like family. For Lydia Pocisk, Kansas was already part of her family. Her grandfather, Riley Donald Woodson, played basketball for the Jayhawks and her older sister, Gretchen Pocisk, swims on the team. She and Gretchen started swimming on the local summer league team when they were six and seven years old, respectively. It wasn’t until later in their swimming careers that they started to share more than a bedroom growing up, but even the same best stroke.

“We didn’t both become breaststrokers until I was 11 and she was probably 12,” Pocisk said. “We compete against each other all the time. Usually it’s not bad, we’re best friends. A lot of people can say that about their sister but I don’t think they mean it the same as we do.”

Pocisk said that although her older sister is one of her main competitors, the competitiveness does not come back home with them often, “If anything, it usually only lasts the car ride home.” Just before the Jayhawks’ home opener in Robinson Natatorium, KUAthletics.com caught up with Pocisk for Freshman Friday.

Why did you decide to swim for KU?
“Having my sister here was definitely an influence. We shared a room the entire time growing up, until our oldest sister moved out my junior year of high school. Then I had my own room and I was away from her, which was kind of weird. Our grandfather also played basketball here and he had talked it into us. I didn’t have a normal recruiting trip. I came on my recruiting trip after I had committed. I had been here for family weekend with my parents to visit Gretchen, and I took everything in then, but didn’t see myself here because my parent didn’t particularly want us at the same school. They had said college is where we can grow separately and become our own person. But after all my other recruiting trips, I didn’t really love anything and KU was still an option and I decided that I really liked it.”

What are you looking forward to the most being on this team?
“Getting to know more people is probably what I’m most excited about. I’m a people person—I love talking to people, I’ll start a conversation with anyone. Coming to a place where I have 30 new best friends is pretty cool. I like competing too, I’m excited to get into the dual meets.”

Besides swimming, what are your hobbies?
“I like to shop a lot, maybe too much. I also love playing with dogs. If I see a dog on campus, I will redirect my route so I can go play with it. I have a dog at home, he’s a lab mix, he’s seven years old and he’s the biggest cuddler even though he’s 70 pounds. I also like to read. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and I also like James Patterson.”
What is your favorite pool game?
“I actually don’t really love pool games, and I didn’t when I was younger either, but my sisters and I would always play spider—I think Anna mentioned that in her Freshman Friday—we played that a lot when we were younger. After practice sometimes, it’s not really a game, but Gretchen will try to jump onto my shoulders without using her hands in the water. We’re so weird, but we have the best time doing it.”

What is your most memorable swimming moment?
“When I won the Ohio state meet in the 100 breaststroke my junior year. I won it junior and senior year, but junior year it meant more to me because I was the underdog against all the upperclassmen. At the beginning of the season, I honestly didn’t see myself winning it because I was so young compared to them, but I did it and I think that’s pretty cool.”

What has been your favorite vacation?
“I went to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands with my parents. My sisters were a little upset because it was during the summer and I wasn’t old enough to have a job, but they both had jobs and couldn’t get off work. It was just me and my parents, which was nice. This past summer I also went to Florida with my three best friends, which was another favorite.”

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
“With a degree, from KU most certainly. Hopefully I’ll have a successful job… and a couple dogs!”

What is your favorite KU tradition?
“This is going to sound really weird, but I love the steam whistle that signals the end of classes. It’s cool to think that it’s been around for so long. I try to beat my class time to go outside just so I can hear it.”

What is your favorite food?
“I have a really big sweet tooth, so definitely candy. And I love spicy wings… but not both of those together! I like the stuff that’s really bad for you, like Laffy Taffy, Starburst, gummy bears… I could eat a lot of gummy bears.”

What is your favorite song or music to get pumped up to?
“I’ve had the same playlist for meets since I started swimming competitively. Sure, there have been a lot of songs added to it, but to give you an idea it’s got some Nicki Minaj, Run DMC, anything with a good beat really. I’ll do a little shuffle behind the blocks and I’ll dance to it to get it into my head, then I’ll keep the beat it in my head in the water and I’ll go with it.  The Lizzie McGuire Movie soundtrack is on there too—there are some great songs on that!”

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.
“My dog is named after a Harry Potter character—Sirius Black. We call him Sirius, Siri, Siri-B, anything along those lines. We got him from the Animal Resource Center, he was a timid little guy sitting in the back of his kennel. We took him home and now he’s such a big part of our family. Sometimes I tell people he’s my boyfriend.”

Pocisk never received her letter to Hogwarts, but she did receive a Potter-related graduation present.

“You know the Weasley clock with the spoons that have each of their faces on it? My aunt got me a Weasley clock for a graduation present, she put my family’s faces and my dog on the spoons, and it’s so cool.”

Pocisk will make her home debut with the Jayhawks Friday, October 24, at 5 p.m. in Robinson Natatorium as they host Denver and Missouri State.

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