Felicia Lee: A Glance into her Career

Feature by Chelsea Howard

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania, February 29. CLIMBING her way up the ladder, Stanford's Felicia Lee has made a name for herself in the swimming world. Putting on a swim cap and jumping in the pool isn't something she just started doing-it's something she's been doing since she was 3 years-old.

With such a long swimming history, it's easy to lose sight of the end result and forget why she started swimming. Lee, however, has used goal-setting techniques to keep her motivated.

“I have goals I want to accomplish each year, but I also have goals that I want to achieve by the end of my career. I'm the type of person that won't quit until I reach what I set out to do. It's pretty easy to keep myself motivated all of these years with that overarching goal in mind,” Lee, a sophomore at Stanford University, said.

A native of New Jersey who later moved to Maryland and competed for North Baltimore Aquatic Club, Lee has accomplished more than what some would even dream of doing. By age 15, she was a National Champion winning the 100-meter butterfly at the 2006 Spring Nationals. She is the national age group record holder in the 100-meter butterfly for 17-19 year olds and also in the 100-yard fly for 13-14 year olds. She has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2009.

When it came time to be recruited, Lee had countless options of places to attend college. After taking trips to Stanford, California, Southern California, Texas, and UCLA, Lee decided on the school that stood out the most in her mind – Stanford.

“There were a lot of factors that went into my college decision. The first that was important to me was the balance between athletics and academics. Also, how I connected with the team, coaches, and program, as well as if I could see myself living and thriving in that location were all factors,” Lee said.

Making the transition from club to college swimming is no easy task for anyone and everyone perceives the change differently. Lee noticed a huge difference in who you are swimming for.

“With club swimming, yes you are on a team, but you swim mostly for yourself, to accomplish your goals and in the end you really only care about how you are doing. But in college, you swim for so much more than yourself. You are swimming for your teammates, the 24 girls on the team all trying to obtain a collective goal of winning NCAA's,” Lee said.

She adds, “one of the best things about college swimming is the feeling of giving everything you have to contribute to the success of a team is something I will never get over.”

Another difference when transitioning from club swimming into college swimming is how close you become with your teammates.

“I can't even begin to express or explain how amazing it is to know that you have 24 other girls always there for you when you need them the most. I think of my teammates here at school as my second family. In the pool, they are there pushing you through the hard sets and congratulating you when you have a breakthrough. The genuine care and concern for one another is unlike anything I've ever had in my life and it's something that makes college swimming truly special,” Lee said.

Looking behind the blocks on race day, it's nearly impossible to figure out the mentality of the swimmers getting ready to race. The key to a successful race for Lee is to stay relaxed and to not worry.

“Anyone who knows me will tell you I get really pumped for race day, but I swim better when I'm having fun and not stressing out about the race. I know I've done the job to prepare for the race, so there isn't any need to be worried about what will happen,” Lee said.

Younger swimmers often get caught up in the nerves of races and can't always relax and have fun in the same way Lee does. In this case, Lee advises younger swimmers to remember the bigger picture.

“When you get older, you aren't going to remember the exact times you went at a certain meet or age, what the records were, or what the time was for a cut you were chasing. But, you're definitely going to remember the journey and experiences that got you there,” Lee said.

Even though much of her career is behind her, there's still more room for her to excel and reach the ultimate goals of her career.

“Knowing how much I've accomplished and knowing how much there still is to accomplish is an incredible and exciting feeling. I've done a lot of things in my career that I'm proud of, but I know there's still a lot more left in my journey. It gives me something to look forward to as I go to practice every day,” Lee said.