Courtesy of Donna Hale
Soon it will be May and the final days of your senior year will be a memory. They are flying by at a rapid pace with every week bringing a new last time. Your senior swimming club speech is a few days away. Graduation announcements are being ordered. Prom is just around the corner. I will turn around one day soon and you won’t be there. The void is already a cold reality in my heart and head. But this is the natural order of life. Right? We raise you to have strong roots but equally powerful wings to soar.
So my swimmer girl, as you and many of your dearest water-logged friends get ready to join your college teams, here are some words of wisdom as you embark on your next swim adventure.
- You’re starting over. Be the swimmer you’ve always dreamed of, but let yourself swim unplugged. You just might find you are good at events and strokes you never imagined. College swimming is all about the team. So when your new coach tells you we really see potential in your (insert most dreaded event) embrace the opportunity to swim outside your comfort lanes. You just might surprise yourself.
- Take the time to get to know your new teammates and your surroundings. You will make the dearest friends of your life and might uncover a passion lurking just beneath the surface. College is the greatest period of self discovery so go on the 20 mile hike, discover a new hobby, and explore the world without fear and open to possibilities. You never know where this will take you.
- Though it might sound trite, do remember you are a student/athlete. Your purpose in college is to prepare for life and a career. Attend class every day. Ask for the help you need. And reach out to your coaches and teammates when you need help. Being part of a college sports team is a privilege and an honor. When you chose to swim in college, you agreed to represent your school not only in the pool but on campus and in the community. Yes, you have a higher standard. Honor it.
- Have fun. Hopefully if you are reading this and getting ready for college swimming, you love it. Because if you don’t love it — I mean really love it — why bother? Life is too short to spend precious years trying to please others. Of course you know swimming is hard work with grueling training and a demanding schedule, but it should also be rewarding and uplifting most days.
- Laugh — a lot. Reserve a place in your head for the very best swim memories. Whenever you feel lonely or question why am I here, go to that place. Though life seems like a runaway train, it is also pure still moments. What you’ve learned these first 18 years was not without a purpose. Draw on the lessons and memories.
- Chase new and perhaps yet to be discovered dreams with passion and perseverance both in and out of the pool. My daughter has always called the pool her safe place where she felt at home no matter what. If you’ve chosen well your new swimming home will feel this way — giving you the freedom and support to discover yourself.
It’s like the most comfortable shoes ever. But oh the places they can take you
The final days of your senior year will soar by. You will wake up soon enough in your college dorm. And you’ll see Swimming with a brand new lens. Savor every final moment. Be thankful your journey is just beginning.
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 12 years as well as executive of several nonprofit organizations. She volunteers regularly for her daughter Hannah’s USA Team The Potomac Marlins, summer team Burke Station Destroyers, and Lake Braddock Swim and Dive Bruins.