Dear College Seniors: The Final Semester

Photo Courtesy: Barb Gehrke

By Seren Jones, Swimming World College Intern

It’s hard to believe that only four months ago we commenced our senior year. The thought of going through the collegiate swimming cycle for the final time was slowly but surely beginning to sink in. The difference between then and now, is rather than having two semesters left, we have one.

In fact, we can’t even call it a semester, but merely a few months, if that. The fastest time of the year will rapidly approach, firstly due to the swift passing of the holiday. Next is winter break training, where most of us are fortunate enough to go abroad for around a week, which also dramatically hastens the “ghost town campus” experience. But before we know it, everyone’s back, classes have kick-started, and we enter the most wonderful time of the year: taper.

Taper means conference; conference means fast swimming; fast swimming may lead to NCAAs; and NCAAs signifies our last meet and thus the end of our time as swimmers, and the beginning of our new chapters as NARPS (non-athletic regular people). So in actuality, we really don’t have that much time left. In the words of my coach, “If you knew you had only twelve weeks to live, what would you do?”

Launching into Life


Photo Courtesy: Eve Sarris

Even though I remind myself of this surreal fact every day, I still can’t stop myself from thinking ahead, looking forward. Perhaps it’s my age, my senior status, or the fact that on some days I feel as though I’ve swam one lap too many, but it’s become evident to me this past season that life continues after swimming.

Life extends beyond the chlorine, and goggle marks, and constant exhaustion and lethargy, and adorable Jolyns. Teammates may not be replaced, but we will cross paths with others who may or may not stay in our lives for years to come. So I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to begin this new chapter. To enter a world where my priorities will change; where time is not measured by the millisecond; where I’m able to go home after school or work and just sit on the sofa; where if I don’t feel like pushing myself during physical exercise, I simply won’t, and it’s okay.

Should I feel guilty for feeling this way? For fantasizing about such thoughts, and almost wishing away the last months of my career? Is it wrong to be excited about retiring from the sport that greatly contributed toward the making of the person I am today? Honestly, I’ve no idea. I’d like to think that there is no right answer in this perplexing equation, and I’d also like to think that some people are on the same boat, or in the same lane as I am.

Forever Grateful


Despite these exciting yet frightening thoughts and fantasies, I still find myself indebted to the sport. And perhaps I always will be. Swimming has taught me what it’s like to be competitive, to fight for something; what it means to achieve a goal, be it short term or long term. I have experienced determination, motivation, and drive – traits and lessons that I will be able to take with me into the next chapters of wherever my life may lead. It has provided me with moments and relationships that will always be cherished and never replaced. I’ve learned to never give up, no matter how pointless, unbearable, painful, or intolerable this life may seem.

I guess my point is that it’s okay to not know what to think. It’s okay to be torn between wanting to get out of the pool and clinging onto the wall. Although four months ago, I wrote about swimming this final year for our parents, our coaches and ourselves, perhaps it’s time to swim for our sport. Maybe these last few months will be dedicated to swimming and everything it has given us, provided for us and most importantly, taught us.

Perhaps it will be our way of saying “thank you,” for the lessons, the mistakes, the memories, the pains and the successes. Perhaps we owe our final semester to the pool deck, to our sport. So in regard to the question, “if you knew you had only twelve weeks to live, what would you do?” the answer is everything you ever wanted in life.

So seniors, we have twelve weeks left of our swimming careers. We’re so close to the end after all these years, it would be foolish of us to not finish on a high. Let’s ensure that we achieve everything we want on this final lap, and look back in five, ten, or 20 years’ time, with no regrets – knowing that some of the best years of our lives were spent in college swimming.

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Kara Lennon
8 years ago

Rae Congdon Megan Mallon

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