For as long as I can remember, I have been swimming. I cannot tell you the number of 5 am practices, four-day swim meets, training trips and pasta dinners I have participated in. It is almost surreal to think that as graduation nears, my swimming career is coming to a close. My experience being a member of the Carnegie Mellon University swimming and diving team is one that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I almost missed out on it.
Originally, competitively swimming at the college level was not my priority. When I visited CMU on “Admitted Students Day” I had an appointment with Coach Kinney to talk about the potential of swimming in the fall. I had not participated in the recruiting process, but after meeting with Coach Kinney I knew that I wanted to be part of the CMU swim team. The first thing Coach said to me was, “well you certainly look like a swimmer” which I guess was warranted as I stood in his office as a high school senior at 5’ 9” with broad shoulders and lanky arms and legs. The beauty of the DIII program is that it allowed me to have the opportunity to be a member of a varsity team, as well as benefit from the world-renowned academics here at CMU. Four years later, I am so grateful for that initial conversation in Coach’s office.
The transition to college is one that many freshmen struggle with, but being a member of an athletics team at CMU immediately provides you with a family. The first night of Orientation Week the freshmen were receiving emails from upperclassmen on the team, organizing cook outs, trips to Pirates games and pre-season activities. Even though our team is made up of people from all over the United States, and the world, everyone can bond over at least one commonality – the love of swimming.
While initially we bond over the love of swimming, as soon as the season gets started the team comes together as we all endure the struggle of training together. Everyone is up by 5:30 am to lift weights, do Insanity workouts, do yoga, and finally get in the water. Only to get back in the pool that afternoon! Although it sounds impossible, there is no better feeling than finishing a practice you didn’t think you could do, surrounded by the most supportive people at this school. The girls I have trained with in lane one for the past four years are some of the most important friends I have made here at CMU. They have seen me at my best and at my worst, and have always stayed by my side.
In addition to support in the pool, we are all student-athletes and help each other to succeed in the classroom as well. To some, the thought of balancing 30 hours of practice a week with a full course load sounds impossible. To us, it’s just another day in the life. Student-athletes at CMU have some of the highest GPA’s, despite the academic demands in every college here. Everyone understands what one another is going through, and everyone tries to help. From the coaching staff on up to the athletics director, Josh Centor, everyone is aware of the academic pressure we are under, and always provide the support needed as well as the recognition of success when warranted.
I can’t believe this year will be my last time swimming in Nike Cup at Kenyon College, my last trip to Miami with the team, and my last time leading our Tartans cheer at the senior meet. I value my experience on the swim team, the friends I have made, and the memories I have more than I can put into words. Go Tartans!