Through triumph comes great joy, but moving on after loss presents a challenge of its own.
Junior swimmer Mujahid El-Amin may know that better than anyone.
While the 20-year-old criminal justice student from Atlanta is on his way to building his legacy at the university, things have been far from easy for him.
Despite the rough spots, El-Amin, who is known by his teammates as M.J., has managed to triumph over every challenge.
In only his second season swimming for the University, he has rewritten FAMU’s 100-yard butterfly record after finishing the event in an astonishing 50.03 seconds.
The record was previously held by Frantz Huggins (50.22 sec.) in 1997.
But things got a lot harder before they got easier for El-Amin.
Shortly after he broke the record in the 100-yard butterfly, his younger brother Luqman El-Amin died in a car accident in which he lost control of the car and hit a tree.
“My brother’s death was a good motivator,” El-Amin said. “It helped me become more focused.”
El-Amin said the death of his brother was hard for the entire family, but it helped him to become more focused.
“The thing that stands out the most is his desire to win,” assistant coach Doug Carrington said of his star swimmer.
“He is very motivated,” Carrington said. “He doesn’t like to lose. Now that we are rekindling the team chemistry, he knows he has to step up.”
Almost two years ago, El-Amin and his teammates discovered the University was cutting financial support to the swimming and diving team.
The cut was another setback for El-Amin, who was unable to train because of financial reasons.
He ended up taking a semester off and working two jobs to pay for his living expenses.
“I was on track to go to the U.S. Olympics,” El-Amin said of his chances before the team left campus. “When they cut the program, they put a lot of people down. The school lost a lot of good athletes because people couldn’t afford to stay.”
Without the support of the University’s swim program, he was not able to train as hard as he would have liked.
El-Amin said he decided to stay because he believed in putting the FAMU swim team on the map.
When his days seemed dark, he turned to his sociology professor Clifton Brown in his time of need.
El-Amin said Brown played a key role in helping him recover.
“He is a great teacher,” El-Amin said. “He was the only teacher to speak in a way that touched students,” El-Amin said.
“He spoke about being a leader, about being open to criticism, because whether or not you know it, you’re on display wherever you go,” El-Amin said. “That criticism makes you better as a person.”
El-Amin said the lessons his professor taught him have helped him take pride in all he has accomplished.
“Whether I do it in the pool, or not, I do it for my team and African Americans,” El-Amin said.
El-Amin’s head swimming and diving coach Ian Lee added that it is El-Amin’s approach to the sport that makes him stand out.
“In swimming, techniques are very important,” Lee said. “His techniques are great. They have led him to appear in the Olympic trials. As long as he can stay academically fit and injury free, there are quite a few records he can break,” coach Lee said.
El-Amin may appear to be handling everything pretty well considering the circumstances. He is on pace to break at least two or three more records before the end of this season.
“This season is like his sophomore year, and he is still learning to become more aware as an athlete,” Carrington said.
“As a freshman, he was a great athlete, but this year his technique has gotten better and stronger.”
Carrington continued to explain that El-Amin still has not reached his full potential.
“His abilities as a swimmer can only get better, our goal is to put him in a position to score points,” said assistant coach Carrington.
As it stands, El-Amin is only milliseconds away from breaking the record for the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard butterfly. Goals like these have El-Amin looking toward the future.
“I am praying to set more records,” El-Amin said. “I want to win Most Valuable Player at our conference meet.”