Another Championship Stolen: Reflections of a Division III Swimmer

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Another Championship Stolen: Reflections of a Division III Swimmer

By Megan Balbo, Swimming World Intern

As my junior year comes to an end, I have reflected on my time as a collegiate swimmer.

It has been a long, rough year for Division III swimming and diving. Two national championships were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many athletes were left with no season at all. For me and many others, half of our national championship opportunities have been taken away. 

As we enter the weekend that the 2020 National Championships were supposed to take place, as well as the planned weekend for the 2021 Women’s National Championships, I have been thinking a lot about what could have been and what we lost. I will preface this by saying that as a Division III swimmer who had the opportunity to race this year, I am extremely grateful. However, that does not make this week any less painful. Recalling the memories from last year has not been easy. 

At a time like this, it has been really helpful for me to lean on my teammates. The time we are able to spend together and mourn the loss of our championship season has made it just a bit better. I have come to realize that as much as this sport is about swimming fast, it is much more than that. Swimming is about the people and the fun environment we create as a team. These are the people who you spend the most time with, and the people who relate to you on a deeper level than I ever thought possible.

The day we found out that 2020 NCAA Championships had been cancelled, it felt like the world was crumbling down around me. I was in a classroom surrounded by my teammates as we mourned our loss together. When I found out that the 2021 NCAA Championships had been canceled, I was alone in my dorm room. I went to my teammates and we again found a way to mourn our loss together. We came together and let out our sadness in the best way we could on a snowy, Wednesday evening. We went sledding. It certainly was not how we had all anticipated to spend our night, but it was exactly what we needed. Time together. 

When I started this article a month ago, I did not necessarily plan on finding a bright side in all of this. I am now realizing that championships are not the only part of the season that matters. It has been terrible to miss out on them, but the day to day is what is most important. The memories we make together and the laughs that we share make the early mornings and long practices worth it. 

With one year left in my swimming career, I am glad that I have learned these lessons. Going forward, I am going to do my best to have fun and enjoy the ride, because one day in the near future, it will be over. I do not want to spend the rest of my swimming career hung up on what could have been. Watching Division I and Division II swimmers prepare for their national championships has definitely been difficult, but I am proud of how far I have come in recognizing how I can make the best of the situation I have been placed in. 

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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1 year ago

Well done Megan…