Advice From the Class of 2017

With the 2016-2017 season coming to an end, the class of 2017’s collegiate career officially comes to an end.  For those of you who still have one, two, three, or even all four seasons left, it can come to a shock thinking about your career will have to eventually come to an end – at it will come sooner than you realize.  It can be difficult to process all at once, especially if you are coming up to your last season as a collegiate swimmer.  Eventually, you will no longer be a swimmer, and instead will transition into swammer-hood, but it’s important to make the best out of the last months or years that you do have in the sport.

As I enter my final year of collegiate swimming, I took to some thought of what my main focus should be in my last season.  I had the opportunity to ask several swimmers from colleges all over the United States what the best advice they could give a swimmer who has either just a few months left or years left of their collegiate career.

“My advice is to understand that success is measured by your desire to want or achieve something, you first need to define your goal and then design a way to achieve it once you’ve done that, let your desire to succeed lead you into success and push you towards your end goal. Anything is possible as long as you keep your passion for success your highest priority.”

-Joey Martin, Lindenwood University 

“Swimming should always be about having fun. Sometimes it’s not always about the times. We focus so much on trying to go lifetimes and we put so much pressure on ourselves that we lose sight of the important things. Sometimes we need to step back and realize this amazing opportunity we have to be a college athlete. When you touch the wall for the last time at your championship meet, every swimmer should be so proud of themselves no matter what the board says.”

Jamie Dhabalt, University of Nebraska at Omaha

“Don’t let swimming control your life. As a varsity athlete, you already dedicate 20 (more or less) hours a week in practice, lifts, meets, and travel. While you will learn numerous valuable life lessons in the sport, there will likely be a time in your life when you need to transition to something new. Try and find time in college to see what you like to do. Join a club, volunteer, get an internship. Do something you aren’t sure you will like. Expand your horizons. College is the time to discover yourself. Don’t let your opportunity to be an NCAA athlete hinder your self-discovery. That doesn’t mean you need to overload yourself and run yourself into the ground. If classes and practice are bearing down on you, maybe this semester is not the right one to add something new to your plate. At the end of the day you should trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

-Jonathan Lieberman, Northwestern University 

“Cherish the remaining time you have with your team because it goes by fast. Enjoy the little things and make every opportunity a good experience. Swimming is such a demanding sport and it can take a lot of energy to remind yourself of the end goal. It’s not worth your time thinking about that one bad meet you had or a bad practice. Remind yourself of why you started swimming in the beginning and why you loved the sport. Find that reason and your season will be fun.”

-Paige Meredith, William-Jewell College

“Be present. Both physically and mentally. It is easy to think that you have time left doing the sport that you love but it is just as easy to reflect back on your time and wonder “what if”, what if I had tried harder on that set”, “what if I would’ve gone to that team event”, along with a thousand and one other what ifs. With that said, it is important to find yourself away from the pool and swimming. Your swim career does come to an end eventually and it’s important to have interests and hobbies away from the pool. Find a club to join, look for places to volunteer, see if you can get a part time job. Whatever it is, it’s important to find yourself away from the pool because although you may not want it to, your swimming career has to come to an end eventually.”

McKenzie Vermeire, University of Wisconsin La Crosse

“At the end of it all, it’s not your best times that matter the most, it’s the bond that you’ve made with your team during practices and meets. Also pushing yourself and your teammates to the limit.”

-Jack Hadjiconstantinou, University of Alabama

“Everyone is always told to not take things for granted which is really true. There will be times where you seriously hate swimming and you don’t understand why you’re doing it when it takes up so much time, but when it does get taken away during a time that you don’t plan it doesn’t give you relief. You miss it more than anything and you get angry at yourself for ever thinking like that. My advice is to take each day at a time and it does fly by. To not hold grudges on yourself for competing bad or not having a good practice. To be positive about everything! It’s hard sometimes but it seriously changes your outlook on the sport and even your entire life. And to not compare what your doing to other teams workouts or other groups (sprint, distance etc.) because everyone is putting in the same amount of work and trash talking only creates tensions. Lastly, think about what your doing and how incredible you are. Appreciate yourself and motivate yourself to continue to get better. Understand that it’s not a permanent thing and your time to be a swammer will come. Enjoy the process and do every thing you can while your in your first half of eligibility because four years is not guaranteed. Never wait to be great.”

-Julia Roller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Always go into practice with a smile and positive attitude. That was my philosophy for the past 4 years. Even at 6am or earlier, if you go in just pretending you want to be on deck that early, and if you can start practice by laughing and making jokes, it’ll make the next 2 hours not so bad. Your coaches will appreciate it, as will your teammates (even if it looks like they don’t). On that note, make sure you realize that it can always be worse. Sure, it may be 10×200 hold sub 1:57 on 2:20, but hey it could be 11 or 12. Or you could have to do them fly. When you look at the time and it’s only 10 minutes into practice, well hey at least your 10 minutes closer to the end than you were at the start. That mindset will make the practices seem much better, and you will move faster since your using the power of positive thought.”

-Liam Huffman, George Washington University 

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About Olivia McLain

Olivia McLain

My name is Olivia McLain and I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri.  I am currently a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where I am also on the UNO Women's Swim Team. I specialize in the 100 butterfly, 100 freestyle, and now that its allowed …

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