Written by: Megan Gardner
Edited by: Megan Mosier and Sean McCarthy
For eight years of my life, and all throughout high school, I was a competitive swimmer. When I would talk to people about swimming who have no background in it, they would tend to think swimming is an “easy” sport because they think you just “swim up and down the pool”. Little do they know how rigorous and tough practices really are and how often practices were. During high school, I woke up at 4:50 a.m. three days a week for practice at 5:30 a.m., had practice every day after school for three hours, plus a practice for three hours on Saturday for a total of nine practices a week. My day typically consisted of practice, a quick breakfast, school, practice again, dinner, homework and finally bed. This demanding schedule was just at the high school level, now imagine what it would be like at the collegiate level.
It is my first year at James Madison University and I thought it would be interesting to see what life is like while being on a sports team here, specifically swimming, since I was a swimmer in high school. The video below is a profile interview with two athletes on the JMU swim team. They answer questions about when and why they began swimming, why they chose JMU to continue their swimming career, and what is expected of them being a student-athlete at JMU. This video is interesting because it shows a completely different way of living at the same place average students are. It shows how the daily schedule of a student-athlete is way different than the average college student. According to Dr. Ruth Darling president of the board of the National Academic Advising Association, being a successful student athlete:
Requires the same set of skills and abilities. It demands discipline; it demands focus; it requires setting goals and meeting those goals; it requires being able to face adversity, and it requires meeting challenges aggressively and with integrity. Successful student athletes approach their sport in this manner and must approach their studies and degree progress in the same way.
Student-athletes need to work hard in two different ways while strictly college students need to focus on only one thing. They have a much harder schedule than most and this shows how much busier they are.
This video could be helpful to high school students trying to decide whether or not to continue swimming, or another particular sport, at the college level. It shows how one must be dedicated and focused on what they do. This video also shows how hard student-athletes work because they have such a demanding schedule and it should make other average college students be appreciative of how hard they work. In the video below, it is interesting to see all that goes into being a student-athlete that one may not know.
Also in an article by Terry Hurley, says “student athletes deal with stress both off and on the field”. This alone proves how busy college student-athletes are. They have two different stress situations instead of just academics like most college students. They have much more to focus on than the average college student not involved in a sport.
Clearly, as shown in the video above, the swimmers here at JMU have a rigorous daily schedule. As Jackie and Camilla both said, the earliest they have to wake up is around 5 am and the latest they get to sleep in is 6 am. Once they’re up, their day consists of practice, class, homework and practice again, with a couple times to eat in between. Their schedule requires them to be very diligent and they must have good time-management. To finish their homework on time, Jackie and Camilla said they use the weekends to catch up or try to get ahead so they don’t have to worry about it later. This can get tough at times, yet even though they may get overwhelmed — or jealous when other people are sleeping in — neither of them regret the choice to swim in college.
I thought it was tough at times to balance schoolwork and swimming during high school so I can’t even imagine what it would be like to continue in college with much harder and more demanding practices, while having an overload of homework and studying to complete. I give the swimmers, and all athletes, a lot of respect for what they do at the collegiate level.
- Hamilton, Kendra. Creating a Successful Student-Athlete (http://diverseeducation.com/article/3631/), EBSCO Industries, Inc., 2012.
- Hurley, Terry. Stress on College Athletes (http://stress.lovetoknow.com/Stress_on_College_Athletes), LoveToKnow Corp, 2006-2012.