Throughout my time her at Carnegie Mellon University, my goal for every season has been to leave the team better than I found it. That meant that every year, my focus was not only on improving myself, but helping my teammates improve as well, both in and out of the pool. Swimming is a tough sport, and we have the longest season of any NCAA sport. It's even tougher if your not having fun.
In an environment like CMU, we as athletes are very fortunate to be able to prioritize academics over athletics while still being able to compete at the highest level, but this is by no means an easy task. Every year, but especially my senior year, I and my fellow classmates have done everything we can to make CMU swimming a family, and to be our brother's or our sister's keeper. With this deep network of support, we are then able to take risks every day to try to become the best version of ourselves. When we fail, we know it is not the end and we know that we have 60 of our closest friends that still believe in us. The results of the efforts of my class and this team as a whole speak for themselves.
Year after year, the amazing recruiting efforts by our underclassmen build even more amazing incoming classes. The cycle repeats itself and the rich get richer. Last spring, both men's and women's GPA's were the second highest that they had ever been in school history. Twenty-three school records have been broken and re-broken over the course of my four years here, and I have been fortunate to have been a part of a few of those performances. We have created an environment where one can truly thrive as both an athlete and a student, but there is always room for improvement.
Being a part of this community has afforded me the opportunity to mentor my younger teammates and do everything I can to make their experience as a CMU swimmer be even better than mine. The team and the sport is special because we decide that it's special. We are the only ones who can give meaning to what we do, so it is of paramount importance that we all take ownership of the work that we do. I have seen what happens when a teammate's spirit is broken, either by the sport or by outside factors. I've been exposed to the myriad challenges that each and every one of my teammates face, both in and out of the water, and learned what it means to show empathy. I have learned how to help others overcome their challenges and in turn how to overcome my own. I've learned that it most always takes a team effort to do so and I am so humbled to call myself a part of a team like that.