If I have learned anything as a student-athlete, it is the importance of being able to adapt. Throughout the years I have had to learn to adapt to new environments, new people, bad news, and good news, and it has all shaped the person I have become. I am from British Columbia, a member of the Sea-Hawks Swim Team, and currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering. As an undergraduate student, I double majored in Electrical Engineering along with Applied Math and Statistics but it became apparent that neither was the field I wanted to start a career in. I decided I wanted to further my education, and with an already nagging draw towards all things water, ocean/naval arch engineering seemed like the right fit. I began my search for graduate programs in the field and learned about Memorial University. After researching some other schools, I decided Memorial was the perfect fit – it had the only program of its kind in the field and there was a varsity swim team that I hoped I would be able to train with. I applied to only Memorial and was incredibly excited to be accepted into the program.
I can’t say my undergraduate student-athlete experience was anything like I had dreamed of. I moved from British Columbia to New York to attend Stony Brook University, an NCAA Division I institute, with the hopes of achieving all my goals – academically and athletically – but quickly learned I would need to adjust these goals.
I competed my first year at Stony Brook but after an overuse injury I underwent shoulder surgery at the beginning of my second year for a torn labrum. The next few years were tough. We lost our Head Coach to a battle with cancer, and our pool to critical maintenance repairs. The program was placed on an indefinite competitive hiatus and upon graduation I only had one varsity season under my belt.
Going away to university (the first time) with the goals I had, and not having the opportunity to achieve them all, left me feeling very “unfinished”. I knew I needed to race again and decided to try out for the Sea-Hawks Swim team during their first week of training. I explained my situation to coaches Duffy and Chris, figuring that I was only eligible to train, but was pleased to learn that I had been cleared for varsity eligibility and would be able to compete as a Sea-Hawk!
As any athlete of any capacity knows, comebacks are hard – both mentally and physically. The first few weeks I felt like I didn’t remember how to swim and it took time getting back into the swing of things. I was fortunate that the Sachem Swim Club provided me the opportunity to swim while still in New York, but it took some time getting used to the level of Varsity training again.
We had our first AUS invitational in November and when we got there I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I had raced. There’s a feeling of responsibility knowing you’re representing a University, what you do is no longer just what you do. Your results, actions, and attitude reflect your team, Sea-Hawks Athletics, and Memorial University. With this in mind, I hoped to do well and surprised myself: achieving lifetime best times (which stood from 2010) and qualifying for the U Sports Championships. The rest of the season went well and it was a lot of fun getting to resume that lifestyle of a student-athlete I had always dreamed of. I was fortunate in that I was selected for the travel team and was able to attend meets at Dalhousie, Laval, UPEI, and Sherbrooke. Hailing from the BC, it was nice to get a change in scenery and see some swimming pools that were new to me. We sent one of the largest teams in recent years to AUS Championships – nine women and nine men – in addition to having four U Sports qualifiers. Newfoundland and Memorial saw some of the fastest swimming to date as Sea-Hawks swimmers set multiple team records and provincial records throughout the year!
Being a part of a swim family again made me realize the power a support system has. I was incredibly lucky to be welcomed and encouraged by amazing coaches, teammates, and administration. While my academic program is only two years, I am proud of what I and all the Sea-Hawks have accomplished this past season and look forward to the next with high expectations. Each season comes with its highlights and challenges and all we can do is adapt and make the best of it.