If you ask any swimmer, they usually have been in the sport for a double-digit number of years.

For me, it's 12.

I started swimming in elementary school and it was in middle school that we became exclusive. It was the only sport I did and it happened year round. Needless to say, it became my whole identity — I honestly don't know what my hair looks like without the chlorine damage.

But within the next two weeks, Katie the swimmer with cease to exist. I'll carry the lessons the sport has taught me alongside me for the rest of my life; but the early mornings, the seemingly endless workouts and the camaraderie of the team are coming to a close.

And all I can think is "How did this happen?"

I spent my senior year counting down the Sunday's until I finished, but what I failed to do was cherish the time I had left. And because I wished the time away — I wished away the good times; the times where it was beautiful and fun. But I sit here with two weeks left, reminiscing on my career with nothing but gratitude.

There were many times I wanted to quit and weeks that I just wanted to fast forward. But these next 2 weeks I just want to slow down.

I've started to slow down my walk alongside pool, taking in every detail of the building that I look at with misery.

I've started to see my teammates in a new way, looking at them with love and gratitude in a new way.

and cherishing the advice from my coaches — because I know that they are approaching me with love and interest.

So instead of feeling sadness as my time as an athlete comes to an end, I'm approaching this time with gratitude. College swimming has brought me the best friends I could have ever made, made me take more naps than I can count and has put me to bed before 9 p.m. on Saturday nights — but I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.