My family likes to joke that I could swim before I could even walk. At age five I began swimming competitively, and I have made the pool my home ever since. Over the past 15 years, I have been on seven different swim teams, had over 20 coaches, and been to hundreds of pools across the country.
When I began thinking about college at the end of my sophomore year of high school, I knew swimming would be a part of my college experience. I had been swimming throughout my entire academic career; to me, school and swimming were a package deal. My sister was a member of the Susquehanna Crusaders (now Riverhawks) Women's Swim Team, and I knew that one day I would also be swimming competitively at the collegiate level.
Junior year of high school was for tough for me academically, athletically, and socially. Teachers aren't over-exaggerating when they say that junior year is the most important year of your high school career. Although I had managed to balance school, swimming, friends, and family for so long, everything began catching up with me. I struggled to keep my head above water (no pun intended) both in class and in the pool. I began to question whether or not I wanted to, or would even be capable of continuing my swimming career after high school.
As I began visiting colleges, I still reached out to each of the swim coaches to get a feel for the team and for the life of a collegiate student-athlete. After narrowing down my search to four schools, I set up recruiting trips in which I would shadow a swimmer on the team, spend the night with them, and have a meeting with the coach. To me, these recruiting trips would help me decide whether or not I wanted to continue my swimming career in college. Since my high school did not have an official swim team, I didn't really know what it was like to compete together as a real team or have teammates. Club swimming is very individually oriented and I never had a team that I felt like I truly fit in with.
On each of my recruiting trips, I fell in love with the swim team and the school I was visiting. Each time I visited a school, it reminded me of my love for the sport of swimming and made me even more excited to soon be a part of a true team. After months and months of agonizing over where I wanted to continue my academic and athletic career, I made the decision to attend Cabrini University and join the women's swim team under head coach Cindy Ikeler.
While I could probably write an entire book series on the ups and downs of my freshman year of swimming in college, I can wholeheartedly say it was truly an amazing experience, and I am so thankful every day (well, maybe not during butterfly days) that I chose to be at Cabrini and continue to swim as a cavalier.
I would not be where I am today academically or athletically without our amazing coaching staff and my teammates. I will never forget being a part of the first sports team to win an Atlantic East Conference Championship in Cabrini history. I would not have accomplished my goals or have the confidence that I have today without the mentoring and guidance from Cindy, Josh, and all of our assistant swim/lifting coaches. I would not be a part of the honors program and working towards a double major and a double minor if it weren't for Cabrini Swimming. Most importantly, I wouldn't have the many friendships, memories and valuable life lessons I have been blessed with by swimming for Cabrini.
There are definitely days when the absolute last thing I want to do is wake up at 5:45am to dive into a cold pool for two hours and then go to classes the rest of the day. There are also plenty of days when I'm exhausted and all I can think about is the paper I have to finish that is due in a few hours, rather than the practice that I'm doing. But even with the early morning practices, intense workouts, and weeks where I think my limbs are actually going to fall off (ie. Training Trip), I know I wouldn't trade being a cavalier for anything in the world.
Being a student-athlete at Cabrini has opened my eyes to a whole new side of swimming that I have never experienced in my 15 years of competing, and as we start our 2019-2020 season this week, I look forward to falling in love with the sport once again.