Article originally published on January 2nd, 2018.
For many people, balancing life as a dedicated student-athlete with a junior-year workload is hard enough as it is.
31-year-old Amanda Wetzler carries that load while raising a toddler with her husband, coaching a masters team, and imparting the wisdom she gained in the extra decade of life she has on many of her college teammates, as a member of Millersville University’s Division II swim team.
Wetzler originally left Millersville (located in Millersville, PA) her sophomore year to pursue an acting career in Hollywood – one she dubs “mildly successful.” However, any success she had was not enough to support raising a child in Los Angeles.
The choice to return to Millersville was a natural one.
“I wanted to pursue something else and was on a masters team, and I loved being on that team,” Wetzler told SwimSwam. “They were very supportive and very competitive, so I wanted to continue to pursue swimming.”
She contacted her old coach Kyle Almoney, who still heads up the Millersville program, and secured a job as a strength consultant, and then as a swim coach the following year. The positions made her rethink her career trajectory entirely, and she opted to pick up her education at Millersville where it left off.
“I decided I’d go back and get a degree in either kinesiology or sport management, and I thought, ‘well, as I’m going to school I still have eligibility left, and I still have some potential that I never pursued in myself,’ so I just wanted to see how far that went, and I missed competing.”
Thus, as Wetzler’s education re-started, so too did her NCAA Division II career.
While she was initially worried about the age gap, the Marauders are a women-only program that has proved to be the ideal setting for Wetzler to make her return to the sport.
“Because of the fact that I’m a different age, a lot of them come to me and ask me for advice on different things, whether it’s school or social problems,” she explained. “It actually feels really supportive. They’re a really great group of girls that are not even fazed that I’m 10 years older.”
And, despite her many extracurricular obligations, Wetzler is afforded few allowances, doing doubles just as any other team member would. In fact, she coaches masters for an hour in the morning, then jumps in with the team, then returns for a lift in the afternoon; the system has allowed her to hit lifetime bests in the water.
“I’m really happy because I have a really good support network here. My mom volunteers to take my son for the two hours or so that I have to go back and lift. It actually works out pretty nicely, and I get to stay home with him and take online classes and go to school.”
In addition to re-entering the academy and returning to her position as a backstroke and freestyle sprint-specialist, there was one more transition to navigate: moving from being a coach to a teammate.
“I’ve always had a really good relationship with my athletes, so I think the only negative part is that they miss me as a coach. They actually said, ‘I miss your motivation, but I’m glad you’re on the team because you motivate me as a teammate instead.’”
Given that her return to college life has been such a success, Wetzler advises others: “Go for it. The sky’s the limit. Don’t limit yourself – it doesn’t matter how old you are; you can achieve your goals at any age. We should break the limitations and do what we want to achieve to achieve the potential we see in ourselves.”
Wetzler’s 2017-2018 season bests, as of posting:
- 50 free – 26.43
- 100 free – 58.23
- 100 back – 1:00.92
- 100 fly – 1:03.57
- 200 IM – 2:20.29