7 Back to School Reminders for Student-Athletes

Northeastern_University_
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

By Delaney Lanker, Swimming World College Intern

It’s that time of year again. Back to school. After three months of summer training, it’s back to the collegiate grind. Being a student-athlete is an amazing opportunity, but with it comes a lot of hard work and responsibility.

I’ve found that juggling my swim schedule, class work and social life is much harder in college than it was in high school, so here are a few things to remember when starting classes again this semester…

1. Prioritize

book

Photo Courtesy: Abhi Sharma

I know that after college my swimming career will end. I’m sure I will still hop in a pool to stay in shape or swim Masters sometimes, but I will officially be a “swammer” in two years. After that, I’ll be a regular person that has to get a job and make a living. So I know I have to focus in school and study hard.

As a swimmer, it may feel like all we do is train, but we need to make sure to prioritize. Swimming cannot always trump school. Yes, we plan our schedules around practice and will miss some classes due to swim meets, but it isn’t the only thing we are going to college for. We are going to college to get an education. Sometimes its hard to remember that, so prioritize. Don’t use swimming as an excuse to not succeed in school.

2. Talk to your Coaches

Coach Troy and Elizabeth Beisel enjoy talk before the first day preklims.

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Not every class is going to line up perfectly with your workout schedule– test reviews and extra credit assignments might be at the same time as practice. Communication is key. If you stay on top of you conflicts and let coaches know ahead of time, they can help you come up with a solution; whether it’s making up practice on your own or coming in early on a morning on which you don’t usually have practice. So, as frightening as it may seem to tell them you have to miss a workout, not telling them until the night before just doesn’t work.

Keep them in the loop. You don’t have to tell coaches everything about your personal life, but if you are struggling in a certain class or having issues outside of the pool, most coaches will do what they can to help. Your coaches care not only about your performances in the pool, but outside of it too.

3. Coordinate with Teachers

teacher-and-students

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

You will miss class because of travel swim meets and have a lot to balance at one time. So be proactive, go into your teacher’s open office hours and let them know you are on the swim team and may have conflicts this semester. Establishing this relationship early helps prevent falling behind in class. Let them know if you are struggling with something and ask for help, it can help you not only better understand, but show that you care about their class. Most of your teachers understand and think it’s pretty cool that you’re a college athlete.

4. Stay Organized

planner

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I love my school planner. I know, that sounds really weird, but nothing is more satisfying than having all my homework, tests, practices and swim meets written down and laid out in front of me.

Being a swimmer has trained me to become organized. With 20 hours of workouts and a full class load, that extra credit assignment due next week or PT appointment for your knee, could easily slip your mind. So you don’t have to have a crazy organized planner highlighted with sticky notes, but find what works for you. Whether it’s putting a reminder in your phone or leaving a note on your desk, get into the habit of staying on top of your work. If you are one step ahead of everything, it will make for a smoother transition into your semester.

5. Use Your Resources

books

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Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As student-athletes, we juggle a lot in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we are superhuman. Most schools have a separate academic service for their athletes. Use them.

As an athlete, I am offered free tutoring so, I make sure to get tutors in the classes that challenge me. We also have the option of getting lectures recorded if we are going to be traveling for a swim meet. There are so many resources designed specifically for student-athletes to help us keep up in class. Asking for some extra help doesn’t mean you are dumb or weak, it just helps make up for the limited about of time we have outside of the pool to do our work.

6. Sleep

Sleeping-while-studying

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

I’ve been that girl in my 8 a.m. class, dozing off after an early morning practice. Normal college kids don’t sleep enough, but waking up at 5:30 a.m. to jump into a freezing cold pool makes finding time to rest up even more difficult.

But sleep is important. Staying up until 1 a.m. studying for that test you have the next day won’t be worth it when you’re waking up a couple hours later to swim. It will just make you more tired the next day and have a harder time retaining everything you just crammed to remember.

So instead of cutting out sleep, cut out the hours we spend on social media or the next episode of Orange is the New Black on Netflix that you just have to watch. Your body will thank you. Get that extra hour or two of sleep a night and you will perform better in and out of the pool.

7. Make Time for Fun

NU Huskies

Photo Courtesy: Delaney Lanker

We work hard. Being a college swimmer is no easy thing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make time for fun. Hang out with your friends on the weekends, maybe get your team together outside of the pool and enjoy team bonding.

Take some time for yourself and enjoy college. Go shopping or out to dinner, play some video games or read a book. Too much work and no play can lead to an overworked, tired and frustrated student-athlete. There is a fine line between a hard worker and workaholic, so find your balance and make the most out of your college experience.

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