Sometimes I try to imagine what swimming and competing in college will be like. Where will I go? What will my teammates be like? Will my college coach push me as hard as my club coaches have? Will we do well as a team? There is a lot that I need to think about, learn and discover in the next couple of years. As I start on my journey of finding and selecting the right university for me, I admit to feeling excited, apprehensive, eager and nervous, all at the same time – not unlike how I feel in those last few seconds before starting of a race. Although I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me or where I will go to school, I feel confident and certain of one thing: I will swim. It is part of who I am, and I cannot imagine a future without it.
Swimming has always been very therapeutic for me. The quiet of the pool immediately calms and energizes me. I crave the feeling of exhaustion, sleepiness and happiness that I experience after a hard set. I look forward to practice throughout the day. On the days that I walk on deck frustrated with something, all of it melts away as soon as I hit the water. After practice, I am relaxed and happy, and I can always get more work done (not to mention I sleep like a rock).
Swimming has taught me valuable lessons about myself and others that I apply out of the water. Because of this sport, I have developed the ability to push through adversity, exhaustion and pain when things get tough. I have learned to persevere and keep pushing hard when something goes wrong or when I experience defeat. As I begin to visit colleges and think about where I want to go, I know that one factor that will help me select the right college is the character of the team. I want to be part of a team where the athletes and coaches keep things light and fun, but who are ready to work as hard as they possibly can once the main set rolls around. I want to be part of a team whose swimmers lead by example, who work hard in the water and in the classroom and who are distinguished by the respect they show for others. And I want to be with swimmers who are fun to be around, but at the same time who are willing to do whatever it takes to get their hand on the wall first.