Swimming Opinion is courtesy of Dan Ross, SwimSwam Intern, #SwimTern. Follow: @danSHAZAMross
Being a student-athlete at any academic institution is tough. Finding the correct balance between academics and athletics is a challenge that some students never manage to find. Being a swimmer at Georgetown University is quite possibly one of the hardest things someone can do. Georgetown University is one of the top liberal arts institutions in the United States. Consistently ranked in the top 30 schools in the nation, Georgetown is no cake walk when it comes to academics. Athletics here are also quite competitive. Georgetown is a NCAA Division One school and a member of the Big East Conference. Some students might look at that formidable combination and get scared away from attempting to swim and study at such a school. I saw it as a challenge. I am currently in my second semester at Georgetown and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, it has been quite a formidable challenge. I’ve kept my head in no small part due to the team and atmosphere here. What I would like to talk about is why Georgetown has been the greatest experience of my life, and why I think, it’s the greatest school to swim at.
First and foremost is the coaching staff. Jamie Holder has been an excellent coach for this university. In his tenure here, only 5 years, swimmers under his coaching have broken every single record on the Georgetown record board. If that doesn’t speak to his performance I don’t know what will. He has also been an incredible supporter of academics first. He understands that an education, especially one as rigorous as Georgetown’s, is the primary reason for us being there. He encourages us to be the best STUDENT-Athletes we can be.
Fun Fact: Georgetown Swimmers have some of the highest GPA’s of the entire student body.
Next is the newcomer to the Georgetown Swimming staff, Hannah Burandt. She started her first year here with us and I can honestly say, I wouldn’t want to have anyone else as my assistant coach. She is incredibly upbeat, full of energy, and a stickler for technique! What isn’t to love? She is one of the most approachable people in the world, and she gives fantastic advice. (Trust me, I can tell you from experience!) She has also coached at some great programs like the University of Louisville (An Old Big East Rival!) and Oberlin College.
Next, the team. The Georgetown University Swimming and Diving Team is one of the most cohesive and amiable teams I have ever been on. (This is coming from a kid who has been a member of 9 different swim teams over the years!) I have felt like a member of the team since the minute I met them on my recruit trip. Not only are they great people, they are also fast people! The Georgetown Swim team has consistently been improving over the years. This culminated in last year’s second place finish at the Big East championships! The team has been tirelessly training to improve upon last year’s second place finish! Do you think we have what it takes? Our captains have been incredible motivators and inspirations to us during tough sets and during everyday activities. My own freshman class has been awesome as well. We have really bonded with the team, and with each other! (My roommate Peter Kalibat and I especially!) Peter and I are quite possibly the greatest roommate pairing in the history of roommates! (Just check out his twitter profile if you don’t believe me @peter_kalibat)
There is one person in particular I would like to single out now. A little unorthodox, yes, but very necessary. This person was a member of the swim team long before I was, and I was lucky enough to get to swim with her before she graduated in December. This young lady is Michelle Konkoly. I first met Michelle on my recruit trip to Georgetown. I sat in on a Marine Biology class with her. She was incredibly intelligent, and very personable. One thing I did not know was that she was a paraplegic. She broke her spine early in her second semester of her freshman year. She was also training for her first international swim meet. She would go on to win three medals at the Para Pan Pacs in August that year. She has also been named to the Paralympic National Team and has her sights set on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro! Michelle is the most inspiring person I have ever had the privilege to meet, know, be friends with, and teammates with. She is truly unique, and incredible. She has been through so much, and yet she persevered. She is a champion, in every sense of the word. I didn’t get to spend much time with her, only one semester, but that short period of time will go with me for the rest of my life. She has shown me that nothing is impossible, and that if I have the right attitude, nothing can stop me from reaching my potential. (Good Luck to Michelle and the rest of the 2016 Paralympic Team!)
As you can see, the Georgetown swimming experience has been awesome. I’m getting an education on par with that of Princeton or Harvard, I’ve got some of the best Coaches there are, I’ve got one of the best teams to ever come through Georgetown, and I’ve got an idol to look up to for the rest of my life. So yeah, Georgetown is pretty much the greatest school on earth! Hoya Saxa Everyone!