Swimmer by day, DJ by night

Tarighi’s passions take her from pool to playlist


Tarighi gets ready to dive into her race at a dual meet against Cistercian

Alexandra Dassopoulos

Freestyling with her mixes and in the pool, junior Leila Tarighi is not only a rising DJ, but a talented swimmer, practicing more than 20 hours a week. This season, the swim team has adjusted to some changes, with 6 a.m. practice times at St. Mark’s and new coaching.

Personally, Tarighi has overcome some adversity of her own, as she’s struggled to distinguish herself from her swimming performance and times. She said these factors create a pressure on her perception of success in the sport, defining her as a swimmer. 

“You feel like your success in the sport is directly associated with your performance and the times that you put up,” Tarighi said. 

She has combatted this by focusing on her passion for the sport and why she swims.

“In reality, once you can be kind of emotionally mature and realize there’s a difference, I think that helps you like swimming more,” Tarighi said. “That makes you more motivated because you’re not as concerned with your performance. You’re more concerned about the actual action of swimming, and it keeps you grounded, in a sense.”

Although swimming is an individual sport, Tarighi said Hockaday emphasizes fostering a team, which has also helped her surmount these mental challenges.

“I think surrounding yourself with people you care about and who can remind you of why you love the sport also plays a huge role in staying motivated,” Tarighi said.

While reinforcing herself with support from team bonding, Tarighi’s role as a DJ has also come to the table.

Tarighi highlighted the team’s new plaid suit and “war paint-esque” Sharpie designs they make on each other, which have both built up confidence and unity for Varsity Swimming. However, she also emphasized that before meets, music in the locker rooms has been essential in fostering this close-knit team. 

Taking on a leadership role, Tarighi has used her DJ skills for the team, hyping up the swimmers with her SoundCloud mixes and playlists. These musical talents have created an upbeat environment for the swimmers, in the midst of such an individualist and competitive sport. Tarighi has also discovered an unsuspected interplay between DJing and swimming. 

“Music is obviously a medium for curating vibe,” Tarighi said. “Being able to curate a vibe in a meet setting is an unlikely place, but it’s essential. Music has the ability to connect people, especially when they’re stressed – and swimming can be stressful.”

Not only does Tarighi’s passion for music create a relaxing environment before meets, but the two mindsets of a zoned-in swimmer and “chill” DJ can apply to each other.

“I think honestly, I perform better when I’m relaxed and I’m having fun,” Tarighi said. “Keeping that DJ mindset honestly works better for me and my performance. I also think that being able to DJ gives my brain the opportunity to kind of release some of the stress from zoning in during swim.” 

Yet Tarighi also translates her swimmer focus to DJing, particularly when transitioning songs.

“It’s nice to distinguish the two into separate activities because that allows me to switch between lenses more efficiently,” Tarighi said. “I have the toolbox for both, and I can, depending on the situation or the circumstance, be more surgical with my energy.”

Using this versatility, Tarighi has achieved many of her goals at meets. So far, she has placed first in almost every 100 meter breaststroke this season and dropped seconds off of her time with her club team. 

Focusing on technique, Tarighi said she also altered her pull outs, or her push from the wall, and improved her freestyle, which will be valuable during relays. She hopes to place in her SPC events, which include the 100 meter breaststroke and 200 meter individual relay.