The majority of swimmers who compete collegiately will say that those four years of collegiate swimming are the best of their four years. However, I also believe that a lot of those who say that would also address the fact that their first year was a hard year for many reasons. Since we are used to always having our parents there to support us through the good times and the bad times, the first year can be a huge development period for you to get used to living with another athlete and being responsible as you enter adulthood. With that being said, here are some ways you can maximize your first year of college:
Learn How To Rest
I am a strong advocate of this idea. Waking up at 5:00 am three times a week, lifting, and getting from class to class can really take a toll on your body after your body. That’s when rest comes into effect, and that’s going to make a big difference in your training. Whether it is for 10 minutes or for two hours, any amount of rest throughout your day will make a big difference when you get to your dual meet on Saturday morning.
Be Proactive In The Pool
Throughout your club career, your coach would always be keeping an eye on you, making sure you’re doing things right, and getting the most out of every practice. However, in college swimming, this is not always the case. There can be around sixty athletes in a combined program and there are only so many coaches, so it can be hard sometimes to receive feedback and get the attention you once received on your club team. One easy way to receive feedback is to be proactive about it. Ask a coach to look at something or get your time on this rep. From there, you can work on what they tell you, or you can even stay after for some 1-on-1 work. If you show the coaches that you care, they’ll be more interested in trying to help make yourself better.
Go To Class (Whether on Zoom or In-Person)
Given the time we currently live in, this one should be easier than it used to be. Make sure to attend lectures, take notes, and limit distractions while studying. Half of the reason you are enrolled at the school you’re attending is to enhance your academic side as well. There is a great quote that I’ve heard from multiple coaches that goes like this; “The better you are in the classroom, the better you are in the pool”. Ultimately, they go hand and hand.
Stay On Your Schedule
Regardless if you have in-person or online classes, setting up a schedule that fits your needs is crucial. Swimming, going to class, eating, and resting are four consistent components for your day. If you keep them organized and build the rest of your studying or free time, it will make you a lot more organized in the short term and a lot less stressed in the long term. For example, on Monday, I swim at 5:30 am, lift at 7:30, class from 9:05 until 11:00, then I nap after class before afternoon practice.
Don’t Take Anything For Granted
As many people have said, college might be four years but it flies by. As I start my sophomore year, I can attest that despite the fact that my freshman year was cut short by about two months, it still was the quickest year of my life so far. Cherish the great times, learn from the bad times, make memories, but ultimately, do what you can to get the most out of it. You get one last time as a freshman, so take advantage of it.