Dear First Year Kate,
You wouldn’t believe what my post-grad plans are. I am going to be a professional swimmer and attend graduate school at UVA. Yep you heard that right, I am willingly choosing to continue swimming another year…or two….AND I willingly decided to continue school. Crazy how things can change in a few years. You wouldn’t believe how much you have grown and changed as a person.
If there is one piece of advice I could give you, it would be to not be afraid. I know we used to care so much about what other people thought about us. All this does is hold you back. It took making the Olympic team for me to truly be confident and proud of who I am. I wish I could have felt that confidence much earlier. Don’t be afraid of what other people are going to think or say. Be yourself and be proud of it. Stray from the norm. Do your own thing.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid of being uncomfortable. This is something your coach, Todd, is going to say to you a lot. You learned how to be uncomfortable in practice. You finally embraced the pain, and it’s paying off. I wish I could have been better at this first and second year. This doesn’t only apply to the pool. I wish I wasn’t afraid to speak up in class or make friends with people outside of the swim team. I have now found an amazing group of friends in my major and I wish I had done this sooner.
You are beginning what is going to be the best four years of your life. If I could relive it all I would. Don’t take anything for granted. Live in the moment. Tell your friends and teammates you love them more often, because you have no idea how much of your success is going to be attributed to them and their unwavering support. Don’t be afraid to dream big.