Growing up sports had always been a large part of my life. I started playing club soccer when I was 4 but later discovered the sport of swimming when my sister joined a club team. Along with swimming, I was involved in track and lacrosse but swimming was the one sport that always stuck with me.
I was never the top swimmer and I wasn't always winning my races. But in my mind, swimming was the best sport ever. I loved the friends I made growing up. Some of my best friends I met through this sport. Swimming taught me discipline, hard work and it also taught me to overcome obstacles when things got tough. Through all of those lessons, I continued to love the sport.
Swimming gave me a feeling like nothing else. Getting to practice and spending time with some of your best friends always made everything worth. I loved the feeling of working hard and seeing it pay off when you swam a race. Some of my best memories of swimming are finishing a race and looking up at the clock to see the goal time I set for myself and how I finally hit the mark. It was a feeling of accomplishment, it made me feel like everything was worth it.
As I got older, my love for swimming continued. In high school, I decided that I wanted to pursue college swimming. With the help of my parents and some online research, we filled out the NCCA clearinghouse paperwork that would help me move forward with my swimming career after high school. I started getting letters from colleges about coming to visit and I even had a few overnight visits where I met future teams I could swim for. It was a chance to experience college before I even got there. Those visits made me excited for the journey ahead.
Fast forward a few years later and I am now a recent college graduate as well as a retired college-athlete. I can honestly say I don't miss being a college athlete. I am so grateful for all of the doors it has opened for me and all of the experiences it offered me but I truly believe that it took away my love for my sport.
Being a college-athlete is hard work and takes dedication to the sport. Both things I learned at a young age. I didn't mind working hard but things got more difficult for myself and my love for the sport when I stopped seeing the results of my hard work. I would practice 6 days a week 3 hours every single day, putting in all of the effort possible. But eventually, that wasn't enough. I stopped seeing myself hit those goal times I had set for myself. I felt disappointed in myself after every race rather than happy.
Eventually, every practice felt more and more dreadful. I started counting down the days until I would finally be done swimming for good. I didn't like feeling that way but I knew my body was mentally and physically drained from the sport I once loved.
I am beyond thankful for my 4 years as a college-athlete and so grateful for the opportunity to continue the sport that I loved so much. I just wish I still felt the love for the sport like I did before college. It changes the way you once viewed your sport. If you're lucky enough to be a college athlete, make sure you never lose your love for your sport.