5 Ways to Conquer University Finals

UH swimmer celebrating
Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

By Kate Santilena, College Swimming Intern.

Staying up late with your computer screen blazing, displaying the recent study guide for your final exam that’s worth way too much of your grade with morning practice only a few hours away can be all too familiar. As student-athletes, we have all been there with a venti coffee in hand. College does not get more real than finals week at the end of the semester. This is when being a student and collegiate swimmer can be put to the test, because now we are not just physically tired but also mentally exhausted. How do we overcome this obstacle semester after semester?

Here are some tips on how to balance school and swimming while tackling finals.

1. Plan and Prioritize


Photo Courtesy: Cecilia Zaccarelli

Probably the most important thing to do to survive finals is planning and prioritizing what needs to get done. Creating to “do lists” where we have the satisfaction of crossing things out along the way is a helpful organizer. Whether one prioritizes by due date, how much an assignment is worth or what is going to take the longest to do, it is crucial to be aware of all tests and assignments that require attention.

2. Communicate with Coaches

UH coach and swimmer

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

As collegiate swimmers, we sometimes make the mistake of believing our coaches only worry about our swimming careers. We forget that most of the time they were in the same shoes as us trying to balance our sport and school. It can benefit us to let our coaches know about our schedule and if there are certain days we are drowning under books and study guides. They might help by offering alternative practice times or be more understanding if they catch us zoning out during practice. Essentially, our coaches will appreciate being kept in the loop during this time of the semester.

3. Utilize Practice

UH practice

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

Instead of seeing practice as another thing to get done during the day, think of it as a chance to get away from all the school work. Knowing that no matter what school throws at us, we always have the pool to blow off steam and rebuild our energy can be all we need to succeed. Spending a few hours working out alongside our teammates can help refresh our brains from the grueling work load that finals bring.

4. Take breaks

Listening to music

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

We spend hours on end studying, typing and taking notes during finals. It is important to take mini breaks along the way. Taking a snack break or time to check our social media allows our focus to shift away from the stressor of our test or assignment and lets our brains rest a bit. We might have that competitive swimmer attitude of powering through, but ultimately, we will be more productive when our focus is “spot on” due to taking a few mini breaks throughout our studies. Along with mini breaks, getting enough sleep and keeping our body as close to its normal sleep schedule as possible is imperative. Both breaks and sleep are essential when it comes to preparing for and conquering finals.

5. Plan future adventures

Streamline Dolphins

Photo Courtesy: Franziska Weidner

Use something in the future as motivation! This could be anything from as little as a scoop of ice cream after the paper is done to spending Saturday at the beach without school work. As swimmers, we are trained to be goal-oriented. We appreciate the rewards along the way when it comes to our sport, so why can’t we reward ourselves outside of the pool? Providing ourselves with some incentives can boost our motivation and focus by increasing our will to finish our assignments.

There is no doubt that the end of the semester is a lot of hard work. Besides chugging coffee, try a few things that can help with organization, readiness and balance throughout our lives as student-athletes.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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4 years ago

Go Bows Go!