By Chandler Brandes, Swimming World College Intern.
It’s getting dark outside early. Professors are piling on work. Exams are coming up. Practices are hard and training trip is lurking in the distance.
It can be hard at times to remember the things you love about the sport in the midst of the hardest stretch of the season.
Although it’s easier to come up with reasons why it would easier to do anything but swim or dive, it’s important to take a step back and think about the reasons why you’re here.
To all of the high school students who recently committed or are yet to make their college decision, here are just a few of the many things you have to look forward to.
And to all of the current college swimmers, here’s 15 reasons why, at the end of the day, we really do love swimming or diving in college:
1. A second family.
Even before you step foot on campus your freshman year, your team becomes your family, and college teams provide a great sense of community and feeling of belonging.
Just as with your teammates, the relationships formed with your coaches will also last a lifetime. We wouldn’t be the swimmers we are without them, and they also become our mentors in other areas of our lives.
3. Lifelong friendships.
I can’t imagine not being friends with the people I am, swimming being the factor that brought us together. They’ve seen me at my worst and at my best, and I know we’ll be friends long after our days of staring at a black line are over.
Between alumni, other teams, athletic trainers, strength coaches, and the entire athletic department, valuable connections are made outside of your immediate team.
You reach your peak fitness level as a collegiate athlete and are able to push your body beyond its limits. The level of fitness achieved during your years spent as an athlete promotes healthy lifestyle habits extending into life after graduation.
6. Time management skills.
Take a normal college student’s busy day of classes, homework, and meetings…and add on three to five hours of practice, lift, and recovery. Although we all wish there was more time in each day, we know how to make the most of the 24 hours we get.
7. Receptive to criticism.
Swimmers and divers take constructive criticism from our coaches each and every day. Even if we roll our eyes behind our goggles when Coach tells us for the umpteenth time to stop breathing off our walls, we take and respond to criticism well, which is a skill that will benefit us greatly later in life.
Although we spend most of the time during travel meets at the pool and in the hotel, it’s fun to get the chance to race in a new pool. Travelling to and from meets means quality team time, and some of my favorite memories were formed on the bus.
9. Work well under pressure.
We’ve all anchored that relay that has come back and won or nailed that dive we were nervous about. If we find ourselves in a high-pressure situation, we know how to compose ourselves and handle it.
10. Home meets.
Travel meets can be fun, but nothing’s better than racing (and winning) in your own pool.
11. Free gear.
The day your team receives all the new gear really is like Christmas day. Wear your team gear with pride, and while they may be big and bulky, we really do love our parkas.
If you thought high school or club championships were fun, wait until you experience your first college championship meet; nothing beats the atmosphere and camaraderie at your college conference championship meet.
13. Personal excellence.
Being on a swimming and diving time is committing yourself to personal excellence that extends far beyond your four collegiate years. Setting goals and working towards achieving them is an invaluable skill.
14. It’s challenging…
No one’s going to tell you college swimming is easy. It’s not, and I’d be lying if I said it’s all fun and games.
15. …yet rewarding.
Whether it’s getting best times, finally getting back after an injury, or winning a conference or national title, achieving your goals after years of hard work is an indescribable feeling. And nothing beats having your team by your side as you do it.
When our alarms go off at 5 a.m. or in the middle of a grueling practice, the last thing on our minds is how much we love swimming or diving. In fact, we’re probably questioning why we ever decided to do it at all. But whether we care to admit it or not, college swimming is one of the best thing to happen to us.
All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.