Wheaton’s Dan Spencer Gains Lifelong Lessons from Study Abroad Trip to Australia

By Kelley Baylis, Swimming World College Intern

NORTON – Wheaton College junior Dan Spencer made the last-minute decision this past spring that sent him on a jet across the world.

Spencer, the Lyons’ top male sprinter, spent the last three months in Australia participating in a study abroad program through Wheaton. While he spent much of his sophomore spring semester debating whether or not he wanted to leave Wheaton, it wasn’t until two weeks before he was supposed to come back in the fall when he found out he was accepted into Boston University’s International Programs located in Sydney, Australia.

“I don’t think I had actually told anyone else at the time that I was applying,” Spencer said. “I had already registered for classes and was rehired and placed as an RA but this all happened very quickly. I almost didn’t end up applying even after all of that, but my mom told me I really should and that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and all of that.”

Excited, yet nervous, Spencer accepted and traveled across the world to a much different place than his hometown of North Yarmouth, Maine.

Not only has Spencer gained class credits but work experience through a required internship.

“This semester, I am enrolled in three courses and my fourth ‘class’ is a clinical internship in a physical therapy clinic about an hour outside of the city,” Spencer told Swimming World from Sydney. “My classes have been great and I have learned so much at my internship it’s ridiculous. This is the third clinic that I have interned at so far and it has been a great experience.”

During his spare time, Spencer has gone to the beach as much as possible.

“There are beaches everywhere and I absolutely love them. Sydney has such a beach lifestyle, it’s so much fun,” Spencer said. “I was also really lucky to have been able to make friends from Sydney University because they have showed me around and introduced me to more awesome people.”

Spencer couldn’t stay away from the pool for too long, and had the opportunity of a lifetime while on a day trip.

“With my Australian Sporting traditions class, I went to a field trip to the Sydney Olympic Park and got to swim in the Competition pool from the Games,” Spencer said. “That was a really amazing experience. It was a great pool; I borrowed my friend’s GoPro and took some videos while I was swimming.”

In addition to swimming and weight training on his own, Spencer also plans to volunteer on a coordination team at the IRONMAN Western Sydney 70.3 race that will take place Nov. 30.

Spencer has truly made some incredible memories these last three months.

“I can’t really being to say everything that I have learned since being here,” Spencer said. “I promised myself before I left the States that I would not waste this opportunity, and that I would push myself out of my comfort zone and experience everything I could while I was here.”

Now that the program is nearly over, Spencer has taken some time to look back and reflect on the time he has spent in Australia.

“I have learned to be more independent and outgoing which has been a work in progress for the past year or so,” Spencer said. “I’m so glad I took this opportunity to study abroad even though it meant missing a large portion of my swim season. It was a good reset to figure out where my priorities were and where they should be and I think when I return to Wheaton things are going to be pretty great.”

Spencer will fly back to the States on Dec. 4 just in time to be back for the Lyons to begin their winter training and head off to Miami for a training trip in early January.

“I can’t wait to see all of my friends and family again and to swim with my fellow Lyons again very soon!”

Kelley Baylis is a sophomore swimmer on the Wheaton College women’s swim team, who is currently the school record holder in the 50 and 100 back. Prior to joining the Lyons, Baylis trained with the Wilton Y Wahoos in Connecticut.



  1. avatar
    Abby Boone

    Great article, and so cool! I would love study in Australia!

  2. avatar

    This looks awesome! Great article and completely jealous of his adventure