Lauren Neidigh has a unique perspective on the grueling training regiment at the University of Florida: that’s because she’s
People often ask me why I chose to be where I am. Since I was just a freshman at The Bolles School, I heard rumors of the sets that were done at the University of Florida. I heard countless stories about swimmers getting yelled at or breaking down during practices. I wanted to know how strong of a person I would turn out to be if I could train with this program. I knew of course that not everything I heard growing up can be true, but the intensity of the Florida program is undeniable. Intensity is exactly what I wanted and what I needed to get the most out of my life.
Every day I have spent here in my first 2 years with the Gators has been a learning experience. I’ve learned that all the work we do is necessary to keep focus for a week-long event like SECs. Those sets at the end of a long practice are something that has taught me the most. I realized that these sets were teaching me to do more than just swim a 10,000 meter practice. They taught me to expect the unexpected and to embrace it. We don’t get to choose when to face some of the hardest moments in our lives or whether or not we will feel good on the 3rd day of our championships. At Florida we know how to finish something hard and pick up on another hard set just a few minutes later. Being a Gator has taught me that life doesn’t stop after you get through something hard or accomplish something great.
Even the smallest details of what we do have given my life more meaning than it has ever had before. Quite a few times Coach Troy has been stern with me about looking him in the eyes when he is talking to me. For the longest time it seemed like such a small detail that didn’t really matter. Then I thought about how much of a difference it would make if I one day achieved my dream job of being an FBI special agent. Nobody is going to feel protected by someone who stares at the ground and muttering. This one little has change affected the way people see me entirely.
Some people spend so much time criticizing Gregg Troy for being harsh that they don’t realize how much value he has as a teacher. No coach can be perfect, but the effort to teach us to be better people makes up for the things that go wrong. Our coaches share their own experiences with us. That’s a kind of education that you won’t find in many places. We are the only ones who get to experience the family atmosphere here. Some people may call it “over-training” but the reality is we’re just preparing ourselves for everything.
These past two years have been difficult mentally, physically, and emotionally at times. At the end of the day I don’t regret a second of it. I can see now who I have become and that gives me something to be proud of. I turned from an 18 year old girl who would cry every time she got yelled at into a 20 year old woman who can fight her way through just about anything. Someday that sense of pride will take me one step ahead of people I’m competing with for the job I want. I came to college a student with a 2.75 average. I ended the first semester of sophomore year with a 3.5 GPA and am well on my way to getting a 4.0 this semester.
When people ask me why I choose to swim for Coach Troy I tell them there are no words to answer that question. The answer is in the strength and maturity of the person that stands in front of them, looking them straight in the eye. I hope everyone in swimming is able to take as much out of their daily lives as I am, because it has been an experience like no other. I don’t know what the next two years will hold for me. All I know is that if something is uncomfortable, hard, or stressful I will be able to face it head on. That’s because I’m a Florida Gator and we are the toughest group of student athletes in the world.