End of Career Reflections by a Rising College Senior

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End of Career Reflections by a Rising College Senior

As the 2024 Division III NCAA Championships drew to a close this past March, and I watched my senior teammates swim their last races ever, I was struck with an unimaginable thought. 

My career is almost over. 

After devoting almost my entire life to this sport, the end is in sight. It has been such a strange thing to try to imagine. The end. The day when I will no longer be a competetive swimmer. The day when there will be no more early morning practices. There will be no more four-day long, prelim-final swim meets. The day the scent of chlorine stops permeating my skin and hair. 

Toward the end of this past semester, I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of friends whose athletic careers had come to an end. I asked them all to reflect on their careers, specifically the conclusion. I was curious about what the end feels like. All three of them had had their collegiate careers ravaged by Covid-19. Yet, when I spoke to them I found that the bonds formed with their teammates and competitors were what stuck out the most. Even when their career was ripped away from them due to injury, they still looked back at all the good times they had with gratitude. Sure, all three mourned the loss of their athletic career, but they are also glad that it happened. They took what they learned from swimming and kept it close to their hearts. 

Swimming has brought some amazing people into my life in the form of coaches, teammates, and competitors. Swimming is a huge reason I chose to attend the college I currently attend. As a result of that, I met people outside of the pool, other athletes and classmates. Even though the miles I’ve put into the pool have caused me to have some serious injuries, they allowed me to become close to the athletic trainers at my school, who have helped me keep swimming in my life. All of these people have made my life whole. 

On one hand, I know that my body is ready to be done. Years of grueling training and numerous serious injuries have taken a toll on my muscles and joints. Knowing I just have to get through one more year is relieving.. On the other hand, I do not want this chapter to ever reach its conclusion. Which is why I plan to make the most of my remaining year. 

For my final season, I want to leave no stone unturned. I am going to train harder than I ever have, and pay attention to the little details I have always overlooked. I want to hit the wall for my last race next March and be at peace knowing I did everything I could. Above all, I want to cherish the people that this sport has brought in my life. When it comes down to it, these are the people who are going to help me reach the goals I set for myself, but also be there for me when it’s all over. These are the people who will appreciate me as an athlete, but love me as a person. These are the people that swimming brought into my life. 

Emma Pritchett is a rising senior at Denison University.

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Antone Balbo
Antone Balbo
1 day ago

Nice article! Go Big Red

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