2005. 3.11 Ann Arbor News-1

日時:2005年 3月11日
内容:Ann Arbor News記事


'Sho Time' on center stage this weekend
Still adjusting to life in U.S., Pioneer swimmer seeks state titles
Friday, March 11, 2005 
News Sports Reporter 

It's getting near the end of Pioneer High School swim practice on a recent afternoon. And only a handful of swimmers are in Pioneer's pools, some practicing their strokes, others chatting with each other while treading water. 

Coach Denny Hill looks at the 17-year-old who had recently completed a lap and now was resting at the side of the pool, catching a breather. 

"Are you done?" he shouts. "Are you done, Sho?" 

No, Sho Koba is not done. There are still quite a few things left to do for Pioneer's star junior. Such as win an individual title or two at this weekend's Division 1 state meet at Eastern Michigan University and help his team win its third state championship in the last four years. 

"Sho Time," as they like to call it among the purple-and-white swimming faithful, is once again in full gear at Pioneer. And perhaps even more than last year when the exchange student from Japan won the state title in the 200 freestyle and finished second in the 100. 

Why? Well, one reason can be seen in Koba's hair. For most of last Christmas vacation, shortly after his father Hiroyuki was transferred from Japan to become a general manager at Toyota's technical center in Ann Arbor, he visited Disney World with his family. This past break, however, he participated fully in "Hell Week" - two weeks of intensive training where Hill has team members working out in the pool, five hours every day. 

As a result, thanks to all that chlorine exposure, nearly every dark-haired swimmer enters March with a blondish tint to his locks - including, this year, Koba. 

Koba's fastest time in the 200 freestyle (1 minute, 40.99 seconds) is nearly a second faster than anyone in the state this year and three seconds faster than his best time during the regular season of his sophomore year. Koba also turned in the fastest time in the 500 freestyle in the state this winter and is in the top five in three other events. (Because no swimmer may enter more than four events at the state meet, he will swim in the 100 and 200 freestyle, as well as the 200 and 400 freestyle relays). 

Indeed, life in the pool is good for Koba. But there's a minor matter of life outside the water. 

He came to the United States in 2003 speaking almost no English. His father, seeking to land his son a college swimming scholarship, bought a house in the Pioneer school district so that Koba could learn under Hill. Suddenly, Koba was attending an American high school that had more than 10 times the number of students as his old Japanese secondary school. After a year of taking a class in English as a Second Language for two hours a day, Koba admits he is still struggling. 

"Listening, I almost understand (everything)," he says, haltingly. "(But) I can't say what I want to say." 

Thank goodness for Robert Steele. 

Koba met Steele, a Pioneer senior, on one of his first days in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan swimming pool, where Steele was working out as a member of the Ann Arbor Swim Club. That night, Koba wrote down the Japanese words for swimming terms and shared them with Steele. They quickly became fast friends and Steele turned into Koba's de facto guide and translator - despite the fact that Steele speaks little Japanese. 

When Koba struggles to get the words out, Steele will often guess what his friend is trying to say and complete the sentence. A simple nod from Koba often tells Steele that his guess was right. 

Initially, Steele helped Koba turn down his many invitations to join the water polo team. "We didn't want him sidetracked in any way," he says. 

And when he sensed that Koba was overwhelmed by Pioneer's 3,000 students, he made sure Koba always ate his lunch in the smaller confines of coach Hill's classroom with other swimmers. (Indeed, Koba says of his early days at Pioneer: "It was so huge. I had to walk away.") 

Food continues to bond the two together. Sho has developed a fondness for American sandwiches, especially subs from Jimmy John's. And Steele loves to tag along when Koba feeds his yen for sushi. 

When it comes down to it, however, Koba's life is all about swimming and its associated requirements. He went back to Japan last spring for intensive swimming, falling 1 second short of qualifying for the Japanese Olympic trials. And if he is to land a swimming scholarship by the time he graduates next year, Koba has to improve his English to a point where he no longer is taking English as a Second Language. 

But the bottom line is this: He likes where he is right now. 

"We have nice pool," he said. "We have Denny." 

And Pioneer has Sho Koba. 

Rob Hoffman can be reached at rhoffman@annarbornews.com or (734) 994-6814. 

今週末、"勝 タイム"が舞台に出る。


デニー ヒル コーチがラップを終って一息ついている17歳のスイマーを見ていた。


古場 勝はまだ終ってなかった。パイオニア ジュニアにはまだ少しやることが残っていた。今週末にイースタンミシガン大学で行われるディビジョン1ステート大会で、一つもしくは二つの優勝と、この4年間で3回目となるチーム優勝が残っている。

紫と白のパイオニアカラーの応援団は、"勝 タイム"と呼ぶ。昨年、日本から来た交換留学生{交換留学生は間違い}が200自由形で優勝し、100自由形で2位となってから、とりわけそれが多くなった。

なぜそうなったのか? 一つの理由は古場の髪の毛で分かる。昨年のクリスマス休暇は、トヨタ テクニカル センターに来た父が、家族を連れてディズニーワールドに行った。今年のその期間は、"ヒル ウィーク"と呼ばれる2週間の毎日5時間の練習にチームメンバーと参加した。


古場の今年のタイム1:40.99は、1秒近く他の選手より速く、彼の昨年の同じ頃のタイムより3秒速い。{実際には1.3秒} 古場は500自由形でもこの冬一番のタイムで、他の3種目でもトップ5に入っている。(実際にはステート大会は4種目まで出場でき、彼は100と200の自由形と、200と400の自由形リレーに出場する予定。)



ロバート スチールはそれを親切に助けている。

古場はアナーバーに来た初日{実際には次の日の2003年4月1日}に、アナーバー スイム クラブが練習しているミシガン大学のプールで、パイオニアのシニア{ホントはジュニア}のロバート スチールに会った。 古場はその夜、水泳用語の日本語をロバートに書いて見せた。彼らはすぐに友達になった。ロバートは日本語は殆ど分からないが、古場の案内や通訳となった。


初めの頃、スチールは古場への水球へ誘いを断ることを助けた。 「僕たちは彼が他の道に行って欲しくなかった。」と言った。


食事は二人の結びつきを続けさせた。勝はアメリカのサンドイッチの好みを見つけた。特にジミー ジョーンのサンドイッチ店で。{ロバートの好みのサンドイッチ店} そしてスチールは古場と寿司を食べに行くことが好きである。




そしてパイオニアには古場 勝がいる。