Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
“Welcome to the funeral of my swimming identity,” a senior said at the team’s banquet following the Pac-12 championships. It was a humorous, but very truthful statement from a young woman who swam in her last meet.
Listening to seniors thank their coaches, their parents, and watching a few swim moms and swimmers cry, I thought, “Wow. This is me in a couple years.”
I sat with other swim parents on my daughter’s team, talking about the excitement of the meet, and listening to seniors reflect on their years as swimmers.
Here are common themes from seniors reaching the end of their college swimming careers:
Swimming has been a major part of their lives, from early childhood through college. These kids stuck with it, through good times and bad, and learned something unique by not ever giving up.
They said the moments they cherish the most are not certain swim times, or achieving a particular swim goal. Rather, what stands out to them are the connections with their teammates and coaches. They were there for each other. Those memories they’ll keep close to their hearts.
They really do appreciate all we’ve done for them. Every senior thanked their parents and realized the many little ways their parents supported them in their dreams of swimming success. They are old enough to know that it wasn’t always easy for us to be their chauffeur, cook, travel coordinator and that we’ve given a lot of our time and sacrificed to make it all happen.
I sensed a little trepidation on what their lives will be like without their team, workouts and one more conference meet or NCAA’s to work toward. However, I believe they have a foundation that should serve them well. They certainly are more than familiar with hard work, dedication and perseverance.
There were no regrets from the seniors on the choices they made along the way. They completed four years as college athletes and have the right to be proud. They will always be swimmers, and their age group and college experience has shaped who they will become in the future.