Broken goggles, snapped caps, power racks, 5:30 am morning practices, lifting, underwater, 5+ hours a day, the tears during practice; all these things have been my life the last 17 years, especially the last 4; until last week.
College swimming is no joke. The alarm clock going off at 5 am never got easier as my time as a swimmer. I always had to set 2-3 to finally get up and drag myself to practice. The worst part about my morning? Jumping into the cold pool. You can ask any swimmer what they dread the most in the morning and I guarantee you it will be getting into the pool. I was always one of the last ones in the water (which seemed to have ticked my coaches off as time went on, oops).
Classes on classes follow practice and before I know it, I’m back at the pool again for practice #2 of the day. After barely surviving most afternoon practices and feeling like I am drowning, my day is finally over. I then would hit the books for the rest of the night and repeat it all again tomorrow. This was my life every single day during my time as a Division 1 swimmer at Auburn University. I never had the regular college life as a majority of students do. However, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.
Swimming was my biggest blessing in disguise. During high school, I lost many close friends and different school events for my sport. I always used the excuse “I have swimming”. But it was true. I was always at the pool. Whether I realized it or not, it kept me out of trouble. Swimming has given me the opportunity to meet the most amazing people from all across the world. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I have learned as a swimmer is that you will always have a hard working attitude out of the pool. Balancing sport and academics is one of the most challenging things as a student athlete. Thankfully, I was able to divide my attention for swimming and school. It has also taught me about myself- who I was and what I stood for. Once I became part of a team at Auburn, I learned that it wasn’t about myself.
This sport was all I ever knew. Often I found myself getting caught up in the swimming world and forgetting everything else. The biggest lesson that swimming didn’t teach me is that LIFE GOES ON. I didn’t think there would be life once I was done with swimming to be honest. Nobody prepared me for when I would be done. All I knew was swimming, swimming, and swimming. That was my life. Now a senior and a week into the “retirement life”, I quickly realized that there is more to life than my sport and that life actually does go on. From the missed intervals during practice, to the 5 second add in a 200 during a meet, I have learned that those things will not be remembered a year from now. What I will remember is my teammates and the memories I made with them. I now have free time that I never had before. Is it fun? No. Do I wish I could swim forever? Probably. But I have learned that I am more than my sport. I am the wanna-be soccer player, the music listener. I am the ex-student athlete who is finding out who I am.
I will forever be thankful for never quitting on the sport and continuing the passion for my sport. Swimming will always be a love-hate relationship to me but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am thankful for my time as a swimmer my whole life, especially at Auburn University. Here’s to surviving week 1 of my retirement life!