Growing up in Santa Barbara, California, all I wanted to do was swim. A childhood spent playing all types of sports gave way to a focus on swimming by middle school. My first job was as a swim instructor, and by the end of high school, I had my sights set on one thing: a spot on the Stanford swimming team, to be coached by the 6-time Olympic Swim coach Richard Quick.
Up until this point, swimming had been my main focus in life. Without it, who would I be?
Swimming competitively at a college level was something that I was good at. It gave me a boost in self-esteem and showed me that I could be a rock star at something if I set my mind to it. Swimming at that level isn’t easy, especially at a school like Stanford where actual Olympians are competing in the lane next to you. It’s a grind of a sport, day in and day out, to be the best. It’s the type of sport where you swim in meets all season, but the only one that really matters is the last one, the meet where you’re timed and ranked. All of the work you’ve done all season comes down to a two-minute performance. It’s a real lesson in performing under pressure.
But real pressure hit three years into my college swimming career when an injury took me out of the water for good. Up until this point, swimming had been my main focus in life. Without it, who would I be?