Welcome back to part two of my road from beginner to division one. If you have not read my first post yet, make sure to do so by clicking HERE. In this post, I will talk about my amazing college career as a division one athlete. This blog will discuss the ups and downs I experienced throughout my four years at Florida State University. I will then go into more depth about how I overcame the firm grasp of adversity. Let us dive right into it.
My freshman year was arguably one of my best years in my college career when it came to swimming. I officially started mid-year in January. I had arrived several weeks earlier after being invited to go on a training camp to introduce myself to the team. That training camp is one I will never forget since it consisted of a lot of running (I am the worst runner on this planet). However, being from South Africa, it was my first time training and racing in short course yards. Nonetheless, I was able to swim several in-season personal bests throughout the upcoming weeks.
Since the day we got back to practice in early January, there were only a couple of weeks left before our big conference meet. Florida State is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference or the ACC for those who do not know. The ACC is considered to be one of the largest and most competitive conferences in the country. However, the only meet that is more significant is NCAA. This is where the fastest college swimmers throughout the whole country come together and race. After several weeks of training and racing, I was fortunate enough to make my way onto the ACC team. My first ACC-meet was a blast. The atmosphere surrounding the meet was extraordinary. I have never experienced anything like it.
To me, swimming has always been an individual sport. You train for yourself, and you race for yourself. However, for the first time in my life, I saw swimming as a team sport. Suddenly, I was not just competing for myself; I was competing for my team. As a result, I swam several personal bests at that meet. After the season ended, we would get a two-week break to recover and get ready for the next season. Little did I know what was in store for me in the year to come…
Sophomore and Junior Years
My middle two years of college were full of surprises. My sophomore year was very similar to my freshman year. I worked hard throughout the season and made the ACC team once again. My times slightly improved from my freshman year, and I was happy with how the season ended. I was excited because I knew that I could go back home to South Africa for the summer months. But then, something unfortunate happened during the summer after my sophomore year.
In July of 2018, I twisted my ankle badly. How did this happen? By playing an innocent game of table tennis with my brother. Of course, probably the silliest way to get injured. At the time, all I knew was that it hurt. However, after a couple of days, it felt better, and I did not think much of it. I went on with my life as if everything was normal.
After about two weeks, I noticed that it was still severely swollen. I went to go get it checked out, and it turned out I had a complete tear in my ATFL and a syndesmosis injury (caused by bone rubbing on bone). The doctor gave me two options. They could fix it via surgery, and I would need six weeks recovery time, or I could let it heal by itself and would need six months before I could swim again. Normally I would do anything to avoid surgery, but this was a no brainer.
With my junior season right around the corner, I moved forward with the surgery. I had to continue my rehab at Florida State, and I was fortunate enough to have amazing people look after me. Before I knew it, I was back in the pool training again. It was not easy. I had good days, and I had terrible days, but I had to push through. I realized that I was still living my dream and would not let anything ruin that. My whole mentality changed, and I was more motivated than ever before.
I constantly told myself that I was going to make this the best year I have ever had. As a result, I once again made it onto the ACC team for the third year. I was ecstatic. I was very pleased with myself and what I have been through and overcome the past year. I then managed to make my way onto the NCAA team. This was indeed a dream come true for me. I was going to the fastest meet in the world. This was truly the best year I have ever had and would change the way I think forever.
Senior Year finally came around. I had a fresh mentality, along with new coaches. I knew that this was a combination that would greatly benefit me. I worked harder than I ever have before throughout the season, committed to having a great final year. I have not even touched my in-season best times since the injury. I felt great, and I felt disciplined. I wrote down every practice we did throughout the season, along with detailed notes about how it felt and how I overcame the hardships of that specific practice.
I then gave myself an honest rating out of ten to see how I did and improved as the season went on. I was finally able to swim my times from freshman year again, and I knew I was on the right road. I was blessed enough to make the ACC team for the fourth year in a row. Again, I swam some personal bests, and with some events, I got close.
I did not make it to NCAA this time around. However, I was happy. After my final race, I looked up at the scoreboard with a smile on my face. I was done. I knew that I had done everything I could to make the most out of my final year. What more could anyone possibly ask for?
Dream. Dare. Succeed.
If you enjoyed this article, please CLICK HERE to receive exclusive articles, tips, and more!
Comment below and tell me what you thought of this article!
Hi there! My name is Rudo Loock. I am a former competitive swimmer from South Africa. I went to school and trained at Florida State University in the United States of America. I have always had a great passion for both writing and sport and now I have found a way to combine the two things I love most. My goal is to help you achieve great things you never thought were possible. I hope you enjoy my posts and dream big!