Courtesy of Donna Hale
This weekend we took my baby to college, set up her dorm room, and she begins a brand new journey as an NCAA athlete. After thousands of swim races and countless hours spent between the lane lines, my swimmer girl is on her own as a Davis & Elkins Senator in a brand new town with teammates from California, South Carolina, Florida and Brazil — and that’s just a few of the freshman. College swimming is here.
I won’t be there to be sure she gets enough protein, wash her towels, or even cheer my famous “fly girl fly.” The water I saw this weekend were the tears I shed for dreams realized, obstacles overcome, and memories yet to make. A new beginning for her and a new column for me. To all college freshman swimmers, once again it is time to take your mark. So here’s some swim mom advice as you embark on this new adventure.
1. Never forget why you are here. You are preparing for your future career and the ways you will change the world. Go to class. Study hard. Embrace all the amazing experiences you can outside the pool. Life is about balance. It’s not just about swimming. Sorry, coaches. Don’t cheat yourself out of the complete experience.
2. Set new and never imagined swim goals. You are now an NCAA swimmer. The canvas is blank. Paint it with wonderful memories outside your comfort zone. Your circle of swimming friends is about to expand. You are part of a team. Enjoy it. Savor it. Give it your all and then give some more. You are part of something special. Honor this privilege by being your best.
3. Follow your heart. College is the time to rediscover yourself. Try something new. Do things you’ve never done before. Listen to that little voice inside you. It sometimes knows what you want to become. Your heart rarely steers you wrong.
4. Call and text your parents. I’m serious. They are a huge part of you getting here. The only thanks they want is for you to do your best, enjoy the moments, and have fun. We get it; you’re an adult now. Independent. Determined. Your gift to them is to stay in touch. Their lives are changing too. They need you!
5. Seize the moment. It is an accomplishment to make it to the NCAA. Have fun. Make new friends. Listen to your coach. These years will fly by faster than 400 200 flys. When you look back in four years, have no regrets. Be a college swimmer because you can’t imagine things any other way. You will make lifelong friends, cherished memories, and grow in ways you cannot imagine. Do what you love and love what you do.
It’s a new day. Take Your Mark.
Donna Hale is swim mom of 14 years. Her daughter is a high school senior and will swim next year at Davis & Elkins College. She swam for The Potomac Marlins, Lake Braddock Swim & Dive and the Burke Station Destroyers.