The Pride of Being a Student-Athlete: Swimmer Edition

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The Pride of Being a Student-Athlete: Swimmer Edition

The United States’ collegiate programs funnel swimmers to both the National Team and Olympic Team. Forty-nine of the 53 athletes that were on the Tokyo Olympic roster competed with some type of college affiliation, whether having raced for a collegiate program or announced their commitment to a program. Three of the remaining four were too young to be part of a collegiate program and had not committed to a college when the team was selected. Michael Andrew, who turned professional at 14, did not attend college.

With more than 92% of the Olympic Team tied to student-athletes, it’s important to show the magnitude such a relationship has on the collegiate system. Whether pursuing a career in competition or in a non-athletic field, swimming and sports as a whole have a tremendous effect upon the students that participate. It provides a long list of benefits: Higher GPAs, an additional support group, a disciplinary routine, and exercise, all of which create a massive alumni connection.

Above the Curve

Following the 2021 spring season, the All-American honors were given out by the CSCAA. To attain this status, a collegiate program must have a 3.0 GPA or above. A total of 721 swim teams from 424 institutions acquired this achievement. There are roughly 500 swimming institutions across all major divisions.

The current average GPA is in the 3.1-3.15 range. Around 84% of all colleges that have swimming programs achieved the 3.0 range and given the numbers, surpassed the standard GPA. The averages per division broke down as follows: D1 Men – 3.37; D1 Women – 3.57; D2 Men – 3.3; D2 Women – 3.5; D3 Men – 3.38; D3 Women – 3.55; NAIA Men – 3.35; NAIA Women – 3.50. The lowest average among these levels, D2 Men at 3.3, is still a massive increase from the national average. Swimming, and sports in general, provides an incredible atmosphere for students to thrive. It creates a foundation for these incredibly high GPAs to grow. 

The Aspect that Makes the Team

The moment a student joins an athletic team, they immediately gain a support group and a structure that demands time management and focus. These new additions to the team aren’t left to flounder on deck, but are shown the ropes and taught life lessons along the way. Study groups are formed. Older students pass along tips and tricks for surviving the hardest classes, supporting interests and career prospects of those younger than themselves. 

Each day, the team comes together and faces difficult challenges. When members of the team are united under a single cause, a deeper bond connects them. They push forward together as one unit rather than many individual pieces. This is where pride in being a student-athlete is discovered. There is pride in being part of a group that pushes forward and seeks excellence

This isn’t to say it is easy. Those early mornings and even longer nights make warm beds a personal slice of bliss. Walking to workouts in the darkness and snow, leaving practice with hair that begins to freeze pushes resolve to the limit. It can be gruelling and requires immense dedication. But everyone goes through it together, and if a single person stumbles, the rest will pull them up and push them forward. 

The Last Moments

When all is said and done, and the season comes to a close and school is almost out, the soon-to-be alumni can look back on their four years with a smile on their faces. Swimming prepared them for the world ahead.

It taught them the importance of exercise. Taught them how to keep good mindsets even in the toughest of conditions. Taught them how exercise itself clears the mind and refocuses it to be productive. Swimming helped strengthen their discipline, allowing for a better chance at a strong graduate school or job opportunity. It established bonds with friends that became family. People that will never be forgotten as they helped mold the alumni into the best version of themselves. 

In the end, student-athletes become united under that singular banner. We come together as a single community that will actively encourage and aid others. We became better people through our sport and we couldn’t be prouder than by continuing to represent that fact.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Ramer Janice

    Love to read articles like this about swimmers. Hard work is a way of life preparing for future. Interesting that swimming parents have kids in swimming too! Love it!

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