5 Things Incoming Freshmen Should Know About College Swimming

MSU team cheer. Photo Courtesy: Missouri State Athletics

By Rachel Helm, Swimming World College Intern. 

Transitioning from high school swimming to college swimming is a massive step for incoming freshmen, but for others, the transition is nearly seamless. Moving away from home and into college independence can hard enough, but to add college practice on top of this is one of the hardest but most satisfying things you can do.

As a swammer looking back, here are five things I wish I realized as a freshman.

1. Everyone Trains Differently

Wheaton College Swimming & Diving teams compete against WPI and UMass Dartmouth. - Photo by: Keith Nordstrom

Wheaton teammates support a teammate while racing agains WPI, UMass and Dartmouth. Photo Courtesy: KEITH NORDSTROM (Wheaton Athletics)

Incoming freshmen without fellow high school or club teammates by their side have to adapt to a new team and new routines. Without the comfort of familiar faces, it can be difficult to stick to your true training habits. If you don’t sprint the warm up, now isn’t the time to try just because a senior on the team does so. After all, you’re the one who knows your body the best – including its limits. Some enjoy the opportunity to reinvent themselves; however, only change to a routine that works best for you.

2. People are More Welcoming Than you Think


Denison teammates embrace as a celebration Photo Courtesy: Linda Striggo

To be absolutely terrified to join your college team is more than normal. After all, most of what you know about your teammates comes from stories of their accomplishments in the news and not necessarily their friendly faces. Just relax and enjoy the process of meeting your new teammates. Some of the members of the team are likely to become your best friends for life if you let them in. There is nothing to be scared of: everyone is family here.

3. You’ll Interact with People from Diverse Backgrounds

Flags to represent international students and their countries

A few international swimmers enjoy flying their home country’s flag on their pool deck. Photo Courtesy: Kara Battistoni

Your college swim team will be a lot more diverse than your high school or club team. For the first time, you may swim with international swimmers who come from different cultures. Their English may be harder to understand at first, but that comes with time…be patient. You will also interact with several different personalities within the team, which is a strength. Somehow, it weirdly works. Embrace your differences!

4. Your Lifestyle Will Completely Change


Bagel snack food Photo Courtesy: Rabi Krishnappa

Your daily lifestyle is the biggest change. You may have practice for four hours on certain days and two hours the next. Other than that, you may only have class for a few hours each day with a lot of down time. One thing is for sure: you must find a routine that works for you. No one else has the same schedule, nor will they be waking you up and telling you when to complete your schoolwork. You must be intentional about planning your daily routine, or else you may find yourself missing meals or crucial work times. Figure out when you can eat, and most importantly, work out when to nap! Naps will become your best friend. Cherish them, especially during the hardest training cycles, because naps make a huge difference in performance!

5. Be Steadfast in Your Goals


An example of some healthy goals to set. It can help incoming freshmen to write them out and post inside the locker room. Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Every swimmer creates personal goals, whether they’re related to a time goal, mindset, or team-oriented. Accomplishing these goals may not happen as quickly as you would have hoped due to various factors and lifestyle changes. However, just trust the process. Remember the goals you set at the start of the season to keep you on track.

What are some other bits of wisdom you wish you knew as a college freshman?

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World nor its staff.