On February 20 UMass distance swimmer Alessandro Bomprezzi, a senior from Rome, Italy, in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, led the UMass Swimming Team to an Atlantic 10 Championship, aided and abetted by two other engineering majors. Bomprezzi has a couple of pressing ambitions in his young life as a Renaissance scholar/athlete. In the short term, Bomprezzi is ending his college swimming career with a powerful finish, while, in the long term, he’s working on revolutionizing automobile engine design.
To support this first ambition, Bomprezzi is the co-captain of the UMass Swimming Team after a host of accomplishments, including being named Team MVP and Atlantic 10 Conference Most Outstanding Performer last year. At the 2016 Atlantic 10 Championships, which UMass won for the second year in a row, Bomprezzi finished first in the 1,650 free to match his A-10 title earlier in the week for the 500 free. His time of 15 minutes, 15.61 seconds was just shy of his previously set school record and was an NCAA ‘B’ qualification. Engineering major Joe Woodman also finished fifth in the 1,650 free. Meanwhile, in the 100 free finals, engineering major Brian Stiles swam the second-fastest time in UMass program history en route to a second-place finish. He clocked 44.68 seconds in the finals, but was just a split second faster in the prelims at 44.65 seconds.
To jump-start his second ambition, the one related to engine design, Bomprezzi is a member of the UMass Supermileage Team. This upcoming June, UMass engineers will enter the annual Society of Automotive Engineers Supermileage® Competition held at Eaton’s Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan, to race a car they built in class. The class started in September with everyone split into specific groups to work on different parts of their ultralight-supermileage car. Fittingly enough, Bomprezzi is currently working in the engine group.
But this year is a little different than others. Bomprezzi’s group was assigned a new engine with the task of reducing its size. The team is currently in the prototyping phase as they patiently wait for the machine shop to send back the product with their original designs hoping it works.
“It’s really cool when you apply the things you learn into such a hands-on experience and it is definitely one of the coolest classes I have taken at UMass,” said Bomprezzi.
Zalaco’s Guide to Mechanical Design and Engineering Terminology describes the word 'bearing' as so - “A bearing helps things move. Typically, bearings make it easier for parts to slide or rotate, and to do so for a long time without wearing down.” This just might be describing University of Massachusetts swimmer and co-captain Alessandro Bomprezzi. Not only does he mechanically have his bearings down in the pool but his life is steadily on track too.
Coming from a family full of doctors, the Italian national was advised to go in a different direction. With a fascination for motors since high school, the senior elected to focus his engineer path on structure and design as well as the fluids and thermo aspects rather than other areas such as material science.
Following the UMass protocol for engineers, Bomprezzi’s first five semesters were filled with classes that covered everything about engineering in order to give students an idea of what they do and don’t like.
During one of his required experiments, it didn’t take long for him to realize material science wasn’t his thing.
“It’s something I just definitely didn't enjoy. It was testing certain materials at certain temperatures and I just don’t find that interesting,” said Bomprezzi.
His plan was originally to get a job straight out of college but now Bomprezzi re-thinks that concept as he hopes to attend UMass’s graduate program.
“Engineering is one of those areas of learning that, the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. I also didn’t want to get out of college and settle for a job that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” said Bomprezzi.
While swimming in loads of work (pun intended) as well as putting in lots of hours in the pool, Bomprezzi admits it can be really stressful and his use of time-management has been something he continually refines as he tries to maintain balance.
One of the sacrifices that is a must for an athlete and mechanical engineer is sleep. Because engineering classes typically only have one time slot option, late homework nights and 6 a.m. practices are part of the routine.
It’s no doubt that Bomprezzi has an edge in being mentally tough and focused because of his ability to practice his skills and work ethic not only in the pool but in the classroom as well.
Bomprezzi is an exceptional performer for long distance events as last year he was named Atlantic 10 Conference Most Outstanding Performer and team MVP. He won the 500 Free, 1650 Free, and came in second for the 200 Free.
Training for long distance during a typical practice can be anywhere from 8,000-10,000 yards and let’s not forget to mention Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are double sessions.
“Swimming long distance in my opinion is totally mental," said Bomprezzi. "There are going to be days where you don’t want to do it, but you have to keep a positive attitude to get through the training and races.”
As co-captain and a leader for the team, he expects responsibility out of himself without adding too much pressure. As far as the team goes, he asks them to just show up and do the work they need to.
Making things more interesting you could say Bomprezzi is culturally adaptive. Alessandro was born in Rome, Italy, where his mother and brother still live, but he’s spent most of his school days in the U.S. when he moved to Maryland with his father in elementary school.
He then moved to another completely different culture when he and his father moved to the Southwest. Arizona became the new home for his junior high career until the pair moved back to Italy when he was 14.
Two years later, Bomprezzi was back soaking up the sun and finishing out high school in Arizona before coming to Amherst.
Bomprezzi noted how different these homes were and found that there were things he appreciated in each place. For starters he couldn’t be happier about college sports in America, an option he wouldn’t have in Italy.
“Definitely a culture shock. One thing I notice here that everybody here is in a hurry," said Bomprezzi. "In Italy, each meal during the day, for example, is about an hour long each with your family. It’s just so different.”
American food does not compare to Alessandro’s mother’s Italian lasagna. Also Italian pizza, as one might assume, is just on another level. Though he does give credit to Bruno’s calzones.
Bomprezzi barely has time for anything else but one thing he has learned to do is unicycle. But considering Atlantic 10 Championship meet is just around the corner, you will most likely find Bomprezzi in the pool rather than cycling down Massachusetts Avenue this week. (February 2016)