I spent most of my first and second grade years weighed down by a constant feeling of fatigue in my bones. But that was to be expected since I got up at 5:30 am three times a week to jump into a cold pool.
While swimming was very tiring, I didn’t always feel like I was trying to survive the whole day. There were plenty of good times too.
Some of the highlights of my swimming career include traveling to various locations for swimming meets, such as the eight-hour bus ride to Brown University where the whole team played Exploding Kittens the whole way, the plane ride to Indianapolis spent talking about our future and the trip to Georgetown where I took a nap the whole way.
At the start of my second fall, I began to feel a fatigue towards swimming that I had never felt before. As a self-proclaimed couch potato, I never really liked the practices, but they were still largely bearable. In fact, I really liked swimming in high school, which was one of the main reasons I pursued it diligently enough to get drafted into the college team.
However, high school is very different from the hustle and bustle of college. Starting in the fall of second grade, I couldn’t bear to go to practice and dreaded going there every day.
Training became the worst part of my day and swimming started to feel more and more like a pair of chains weighing me down, limiting what I could do with my life. I lost much of the joy I had for sports in high school, and as I grew more and more exhausted from practicing, I wondered what I should do for my future.
As a pre-med student, I realized that if I wanted to go to medical school right after college, I would have to start my clinical volunteering and shadowing requirements soon. With the time that swimming takes, it would be almost physically impossible to juggle all those commitments and activities this school year. So something had to give: my future plans or the swim team.
Over time, my apathy towards swimming grew and grew, and I increasingly felt that maybe it was time for me to quit the swim team. I was still worried. I was afraid of making a decision that would have a negative impact on my career.
Before entering college, I had originally planned to swim for all four years and graduate boasting that I had completed all of my pre-medical requirements while being a student-athlete. Now that I was really in the thick of it, I was beginning to realize the difficulty of this ideal.
As someone with a strong religious background, I turned to God for guidance, and in my search I began to realize that God could teach me a lesson that not everything would always go according to plan. my plans.
Although I was beginning to accept that my life might take a different direction than I had originally planned, it still scared me to take a leap of faith and quit the swim team. I prayed and consulted with others for about three months, seeking guidance on what to do.
At the end of these three months, I came to the conclusion that this feeling of exhaustion and fatigue was valid and true, and it was time for me to close the chapter on my swimming career. I would miss the friends I made and the special environment I was a part of, but this decision would make me much happier in the last two years of my college life.
So in May 2022, I officially ended my career as a competitive swimmer. I left feeling liberated but sad, like the shackles that bound so much of my life were finally gone, but by then I had almost taken a liking to those ties. Anyway, I’m happy now and I know I made the right decision.
With all my free time this semester, I have been able to join clubs such as the Blue Orchids Chinese Dance Team and Tutorial Project, play with children as a Child Life volunteer at the hospital, and lead a small group for my church.
Although with the inclusion of these new activities I am now as busy as when I was swimming, I am so much happier with where I am in life. I learned to take this leap of faith. You never know where it will take you.
Anni Fan is a junior from Allen, Texas, majoring in public health.
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