Swimming, especially at the collegiate level, is vastly different from any other competitive sport. Aside from relays, it's mainly an individual sport — or at least it seems individual. At the meet, the outcome depends on you. But the journey to get to that competition is arguably one of the most unified training schedules of any other sport. Imagine just swimming, by yourself in an empty lane for two hours straight.
No one to race, motivate you or correct any technical issues you may be having — it's almost impossible to improve as a swimmer if you are going at it alone.
Being surrounded by dedicated, inspirational, hard-working teammates can help an athlete succeed much farther than if they were to train alone. So as I venture into my last few months of collegiate swimming, I'm going to take time and reflect on why my girls on the team have helped me accomplish so more much inside and outside of the pool than I ever could have done by myself.
I came into college feeling scared yet confident at the same time. I was terrified for practice and training but I knew that the other freshman coming in with me were feeling the exact same way. I followed my fellow teammates on Insta and I was excited to have them be a part of my life for the next four years (I was completely unaware of how large of a part they would be).
Since the first day, my class of girls and I met we created a bond as strong as if we were actually sisters. We live together, we swim together for 20+ hours a week and sometimes may even have classes together. By having this intense family-like feeling toward my teammates it made the seemingly endless practices manageable. It's easier to conquer an intense week of training knowing that all those around you are probably feeling the exact same fatigue, stress and exhaustion that you are feeling. Being apart of a team of women who put their whole hearts into training makes me remember why I fell in love with the sport to begin with. But don't get me wrong, there are many times I can recall thinking to myself "I'm going to quit swimming." But being around these people makes the hard times seem simple and the fun times much easier to cherish.
Outside of the pool, these girls are strong, resilient, intelligent, encouraging, kind, dramatic, loving and so many more positive adjectives that I won't make you read. The excessive amounts of hours we spend in the pool are often times shadowed by what we are doing together outside of it. It's not just teammates that make college memorable, but the close friendships that you've created. Cherish these women, because they are going to be apart of your story for the rest of your life.
I'm entering my final semester of college and swimming. The number of insecurities, doubt and just straight-up awful experiences I've had during my tenure on the team can be easily forgotten when I remember the amount of love I was surrounded with on the team.
And for the bonds that I've created all four years of college, I will always be thankful.