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Sarasota Athlete of the Week: Alexander Malaj

The Sarasota High swimmer won two events at the Sailors district meet.

Alexander Malaj. (Photo by Ryan Kohn.)
Alexander Malaj. (Photo by Ryan Kohn.)
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Alexander Malaj is a sophomore on the Sarasota High boys swim team. Malaj won the 100-yard freestyle (48.62 seconds) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.14) at the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A, District 9 meet, held Oct. 21-22 at Selby Aquatic Center. Malaj also swims for the Sarasota Tsunami club. 

When did you start swimming?

I started swimming competitively in the summer after third grade. My family signed me up for the Sarasota Sharks, and I started there. I joined the Tsunami about two years ago. 

What is the appeal to you?

It's an outlet. With all the stuff that goes on in school and all the work you have to do, after a hard day it is nice to come and swim. It gets out emotions. And I like the competition, too. 

What is your favorite event?

I love the 50-yard freestyle. It's all speed. You can't (afford to) mess anything up. I just like going fast and giving it your all at once. 

What have you been working to improve?

The distance (500-yard) freestyle. I'm trying to branch out. I can see the appeal of it now. It is a methodical race. It is almost like chess. For me, when I was little, I would go all-out on the first 100 or 200 yards and then suffer back on the next 300. But I'm improving my pacing now. 

What is your favorite memory?

The 2022 Short Course Florida Age Group Championships. I feel like I matured on this team (the Tsunami) and became an integral part of it at that event. There was a lot of growth. 

What are your goals for the rest of the high schools season?

For the 200-yard free I will have to drop a little time to get to states. I have to get to 1:45.00. Until I do that, that's my only goal for that event. For the 100-yard free, I just need to match my time from districts, but I'd like to hit the mid- to low-47 second mark. I'm also hoping to be on a relay team or two at states. 

What is your favorite food?

Byrek. It's a Balkan dish that my family makes a lot. (Byrek is a pastry filled with meats, cheeses, vegetables or fruits). 

What are your hobbies?

I like to lift weights and I like to go fishing. 

What is your favorite school subject?

It would be between physics and history. I like both. With physics there is a lot of math, but I like how it is not as abstract as normal math. It is easier to grasp the concepts. There is always a natural observation you can make with it. With history, it is important to me to know because it dictates or explains how we live in the world today. 

What is your favorite movie?

I like 'Rocky' a lot. I'll go with that. 

What is the best advice you have received?

It's not exactly advice, but I like the quote, 'Adversity is a building block of character.' Everyone will go through something (difficult).  It's how you respond to it that matters. And that applies to anything, not just swimming. 

Finish this sentence: "Alexander Malaj is …"

Taciturn. I'm always a little shy when it comes to meeting new people. But when I do warm up to people, I'm pleasant to talk with, I think. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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