Dear College Freshmen: As You Begin Your First Season…

swim-team-cheer
Photo Courtesy: Lori Beckemeyer

By Taylor Byers (From the Archive)

Dear Incoming Freshmen,

Welcome to the family! You may have finally settled into your dorm room and organized it just how you need. You may have finally settled into a daily routine – when to leave for class or practice, and perhaps as precise as what time you need to eat. You may have finally started to get in the swing of practices: learning which lane in which to swim, decoding your coach’s abbreviations within sets, and picking up the different names for drills you learned from past coaches.

These next four years of college will undoubtedly be the best four years of your life. Joining a new team can be exciting yet terrifying at the same time. The team is made up of all new people from all different areas, the coaches come from all different backgrounds. Even the pool smells and tastes different than your pool at home!

College swimming is far different than high school or club swimming. According to research conducted by the NCAA, only 7 percent of male swimmers and only 7.4 percent of female swimmers continue the sport in college. By making this decision to swim in college, you will not only grow as a swimmer but also as a person. You can carry every moment of these next four years with you for the rest of your life. That being said, here are a few tips to ensure a smooth transition from high school to college swimming.

The Coaching

coaching-team

Photo Courtesy: Lori Beckemeyer

Most of the time, the training will be different than your past training with a club or high school team. Every coach has a different style and a different weekly plan that works. Have an open mind going into each practice. They were hired as a coach for a reason – for the background and intelligence they have. Know that you are putting in the work with doubles, lifting and dryland. This might be the most practices and exercise you ever done before, and you are becoming stronger both in and out of the pool. Trust the process.

The Opportunities

With college swimming comes so many opportunities for volunteering, leadership and learning. These are the areas that help you develop as a person. Volunteering is always a great team bonding experience, and it is always a humbling experience to give back. There are plenty of leadership opportunities on a team, such as leading dryland, taking a lead on organizing a team function, being a senior leader or captain and being a teammate that your team can look up to. You will learn a lot about your swimming, your team and yourself from the people you meet. The connections you make will have an everlasting impression on your life. Take every opportunity that comes your way.

The Setbacks

Life is not always perfect. Some days you will feel as though you are gliding through the water, and other days you may feel sluggish. You may get catch a cold and be out of the water a day or two, or you may get injured and be out for a month. In the moment it may feel impossible to overcome, but do not let it bring you down. There are always options to overcome these setbacks, and they will make you physically and mentally stronger in the end. What challenges you changes you.

The Camaraderie

team-cheering

Photo Courtesy: Lori Beckemeyer

The culture within college swimming is so special, because the team is made up of athletes who choose to practice for 20-plus hours a week along with having at least the same number of hours dedicated to classwork. Your team is a continual support system; they are there to get you through a tough set, to cheer you on at the end of your lane, to give you a hug after the best swim of your life or to help you study for a test.

By swimming in college, you learn to swim for your team: for the swimmer in front of and behind you, as well as for the swimmer to your left and to your right. When a teammate is standing on the podium at your conference championship meet, the whole team is up there standing with them. Your teammates will be your lifelong friends and family. By committing to a college swim team, you chose to be a part of something special, something so memorable.

Cherish it.

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

Hope Johnsky

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4 years ago

Mason Amble

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Thank you!

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4 years ago

Réka Kovács

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4 years ago

Avery Fisher

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Kelley Zimcosky
4 years ago

Beautifully written, Taylor!! So proud of you.