On the morning of his final regional spelling bee, Ashley Academy eighth-grader Rahul Krishnaswamy knew he had to do his best in order to come out on top.
“I was nervous, because I knew this was my last year competing and I’d never get to go back in my life, so the pressure was on,” he said.
Despite being nervous, Krishnaswamy won the Knoxville News Sentinel Southern Appalachia Regional Spelling Bee last month, and he’s in the midst of preparing for his second time at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.
Krishnaswamy’s winning word was “emanant,” a word he didn’t have any trouble spelling.
“I was really nervous, but I knew I could do it. I just needed to concentrate on the word, not focus on the crowd and not focus on the competitor, but once I heard my word, I knew it,” he said.
Krishnaswamy is no stranger to bees. He competed in his first spelling bee as a third-grader and has been competing ever since.
“I knew this was my last year, so I really wanted to make it,” he said of his last chance to go for the big win at nationals.
His goal is to make it into the top 10 at the national bee.
“A lot of my friends from the last time I went are coming back this year, so I get to meet them again. Last time I went I wasn’t competitive. I was in sixth grade. I didn’t know what a spelling bee was about, but now I’m more competitive,” Krishnaswamy said.
Krishnaswamy hopes his competitive edge will take him further than his time at nationals in 2011.
Whatever happens come the weekend of May 28, Krishnaswamy is happy that his years of hard work have paid off. He plans on pursuing academic competition in high school by participating in quiz bowl, science bowl and science fair.
“You learn a lot of things. It’s a good experience. You get to talk to people. You get to learn a lot of things. From this I’ve learned good study habits. Before, I couldn’t concentrate for four hours,” he said.