March madness and my swimming experience

Keeping up with the NCAA Div. I Swimming and Diving Championship meets these past two weeks has made me reflect on my own collegiate swimming career.

And damn, has it made me emotional.

I started competitive swimming when I was six years old because I wanted an athletic activity that wouldn’t make me sweat.

I kid you not.

Swimming became the most important thing in my life. I gave up other activities like girl scouts and softball so I could focus on swimming. I was never a great swimmer, there were always girls my age much faster than me, but seeing myself improve over the years made me proud — proud of all the work I put in to get to where I was.

When I got to college, I had some big goals for myself. I was going to break the minute mark in the 100 back, break the Oswego State record and be in the top-eight in the SUNYAC in the 100 back.

I never did any of those things.

But I’m not disappointed.

Do I wish I could have accomplished those original goals?

Of course I do.

However, I’m grateful I was able to swim in college at all. It wasn’t easy and I know many people who didn’t make it to senior year. Swimming all these years has made me a better, more well-rounded person. I know the value of hard work, dedication and teamwork. I know how to set goals and reach them and how to cope when things don’t go my way.

As I watched these swimmers the past two weekends, I felt happy for them.

No, I don’t know what it’s like to break a record or be a national champion.

But I’ve been in their shoes.

I know what its like to fall in love with a sport as a little kid and have it be your whole life growing up. I know how hard it is balancing practices and meets with classes and a social life, but I also know how amazing it is to finish a race, look up at the clock, see your time and feel a sense of accomplish wash over you.

That’s what I loved about swimming and what I’ll always love about it, as a participant or a spectator.

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