A Letter to My Swimming Classmates

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Photo Courtesy: Matt Riley

By Courtney Bartholomew, Swimming World College Intern

Dear Swimming Classmates,

We have completed our final dual meet and season together. Over the course of four years we have competed in four mid-season meets, raced in over 28 dual meets, recorded over 1,500 practices, ran thousands of stadium steps, and swam close to (if not more than) a million laps. These numbers are shocking, but to me, the best part of it is that you have been there for every single step of the way.

Walking into college, freshmen do not know who their new friends will be or if they will feel comfortable in a new environment. While we also experienced this anxiety to some degree, we were lucky enough to have each other from the very beginning. As we left home and became independent individuals, we knew that there was a group we could always turn to for comfort. We walked into the doors of the pool knowing that we did not have to tackle the first weeks of college alone; we had a group who was already our family.

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Photo Courtesy: Lauren Seroka

We survived the first months of hard training and learning the ropes of college classes together. The long, drawn out practices that never seemed to end were painful, but now we talk about those sets fondly and realize how ridiculous some were. Not only do we reminisce about certain sets or the way coaches acted, now we can laugh about our reactions and the over-exaggerations. Remember the time we pushed football sleds across the turf field? At the time it seemed like the most daunting task in the world, but now we recognize that pushing a sled across a field was relatively easy compared to other practices or struggles outside of the pool that we have encountered.

Not only did we survive the training and the daunting task of classes, but we got out of our warm beds at ungodly hours to jump into a frigid pool, even when we did not want to. We endured the late night sessions in the library trying to finish projects and then still having to wake up for morning practice at 5 a.m. We survived long hours on busses to swim meets, in which our busses always seemed to break down (or get stuck). We made it through the seemingly infinite submarine sandwiches before racing and the endless Olive Garden breadsticks after a long weekend of swimming.

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Photo Courtesy: Matt Riley

In the past four years, we have seen each other struggle to find our identities, confront the “real world” head on, and deal with countless personal struggles. It did not matter if it was a poor grade, a recent breakup, or a bad practice– we have been together through it all. While we all have been involved in activities outside of swimming and our hectic lives take up a lot of time, we all could come together when our classmates needed us the most. Whether it be leaving a class mid-way because of a phone call one of us received, giving up social time to pick someone up from the airport, or letting sleep fall to the way-side when one of us needed to talk, we have always been there. There has not been too insignificant of a moment that did not require attention, nor too substantial of an obstacle to back down. Through it all we have been able to count on each other to be the best support system.

When I look back on my four years of college, each and every one of you will be in the memories. I have you to thank for getting me get to this point and for helping me to become the person that I am today. Whether or not you realize it, you have each impacted my life in someway. From the conversations we’ve had at dinner to sitting around on couches watching movies during a recruiting break. To a hello with a smile in passing on the way to class or that one time you brought me coffee because I needed it. Each moment meant more to me than you could ever begin to recognize.

Photo Courtesy: Emory Athletics

Photo Courtesy: Emory Athletics

So next year, as we all embark on this new journey of the “real world,” we wont be together for the first time in four years. We will make new friends, have new experiences, move to different parts of the country, and live our lives without swimming (or diving). While this is scary because of all of the unknowns that accompany large life changes, I know that even without you all by my side that you are still with me. I know that if I have a bad day or am struggling with work, that I can always pick up my phone and hear your voice.

Thank you for not only being my teammate, my classmate, and my friend these four years, but also for becoming my family. We have shared many unforgettable experiences and moments together. While it is difficult to say goodbye to such an important and loving chapter in my life, I look forward to the fact that in ten years we will all be able to sit around a table for a “class dinner” and talk about all of our memorable college adventures.

With love,

Your Classmate