The Life of a Competitive Swimmer – vol. 2

Continuing our look at what it’s like to be a high school swimmer, here are a few more videos that feature students from swim teams across the country:

First up, CBS Chicago does a feature on the Evanston High School Girls Swim Team — you’ll hear specifically about how a relay race works, and one student’s daily routine:

In this clip, Becky Dionne from Alvirne High School discusses what got her into swimming and how she pumps herself up for competition:

This video showcases a few boys from Rose Bowl Aquatics, each talking about why they love swimming:

Ester’s Swimming Role Models

Ester, like many young competitive athletes, certainly has some role models in her sport that she looks up to. Whether she models her training regimen after them, or studies their technique, here are a few top swimmers from recent years that she might follow:

Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin has become one of the most popular female swimmers in the US in recent years, largely due to her huge success at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she won 4 gold medals at only 17 years old. She currently holds the world record in the 200-meter backstroke and American records in both the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke, and has won twenty-seven medals in international competition so far. Franklin currently attends college at the University of California at Berkeley and is a member of the U.S. national team with plans to compete in the upcoming 2016 Olympics.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning 22 medals total: 18 gold, two silver, and two bronze. Phelps is also the long course world record holder in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly and 400-meter individual medley. His success over the past decade has led to a boost in swimming’s popularity, both with young athletes and TV viewers alike. Although he has stated the 2012 Olympics would be his last, he recently announced he was considering coming out of retirement to compete again.

Simone Manuel

Simone Manuel, an 18-year-old freshman at Standford University, is one of America’s current top freestyle sprinters. She, her teammate Lia Neal, and University of Florida swimmer Natalie Hinds, recently made history when they finished 1-2-3 in the women’s 100-yard freestyle, respectively, marking the first time three African American swimmers swept the medals in an NCAA championship event. At those championships, Manuel set an American record for her time of 46.09 in the women’s 100 yard freestyle, making headlines and cementing herself as an athlete to watch in the coming years. She is training for next summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials, and hopes to get her Olympic debut at the 2016 games in Rio.

Allison Schmitt

Allison Schmitt is a six-time Olympic medalist who specializes in freestyle events, competing in both the 2008 and 2012 games for the U.S. national team. She began swimming competitively at age 10, and started training alongside Olympian Michael Phelps beginning in her senior year of high school. Schmitt began suffering from depression after the London Olympics, which started to impact her training and race results. She eventually made her struggles with depression public, hoping to help others who were also experiencing mental health issues.

Cullen Jones

Cullen Jones is an Olympic medalist specializing in freestyle sprint events. He holds the world record in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay as part of the U.S. national team, and won silver medals in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay and the 50-meter freestyle, and gold in the 4 x 100 meter medley at the 2012 Olympic Games. Jones is the first African-American to hold a world record in swimming.

The Life of a Competitive Swimmer – vol. 1

To help get a sense of the day-to-day demands of competitive swimming and what life is like as a student athlete, we’ll be using this space in the coming weeks to look at videos, articles, and interviews about being on a swim team.

First up, in the video below, the coaches of the Seaford Barracudas talk about the sport’s recent rise in popularity, the basic training schedule for swimmers at the high school level, and the importance of involved parents in the success of the team.

Florida State & Seminole Swimming

Florida State University, founded in 1851, is located in Tallahassee, Florida — within a few hours’ drive of the high school where Dry Land takes place. As Amy mentions, “Like half of the people who I know who graduated last year go there.”

In the Fall 2014 semester, 41,773 students made up the student population of Florida State, and the in-state tuition rate for undergrads was $5,644/year. FSU’s school colors are garnet and gold, and their mascot is the Seminole.

The Florida State Seminole

The Florida State Seminole

In the play, Ester’s visit to Florida State for her swimming tryout is the only time we leave the high school’s locker room. The prospect of attending college and possibly getting a swimming scholarship is a big deal for Ester, and while we don’t see swim test, she does share her anxiety about it with Victor, a current FSU student. While sitting and talking in a dorm hallway, they touch on the sports culture of the school:


Sorry, it’s just that this school can make you a little sports-averse if that’s not your thing.

I’m sorry it’s just like hard for me not to see you as like—I don’t know I’m sure this sounds completely ludicrous to you, but— an oppressive force.


An oppressive force?


Not you. But like. I don’t know. You’re getting scouted for swimming.
Like you’ll probably get some boyfriend like my roommate you know? Or at least your picture on the wall or something with your whole team, smiling, being really physically fit together. Eating all the meat in the dinning halls in your sweat pants and wet hair—at your reserved table. Smiling.
And I’ll be like listening to the Vampire Weekend Pandora station in the common room with my RA named Fred.

Florida State’s sports teams compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level, which is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. They have a robust athletic program that includes nine men’s and eleven women’s teams, ranging from football and basketball, to track and field, swimming, and tennis. FSU has been ranked among the top fifty NCAA Division I athletic programs in the country since the early 1990s, and spent nearly $87 million for its sports teams and facilities in the 2014-2015 school year.

Below are some images of the FSU campus, including the swimming facilities that Ester likely used for her tryout. You can also take a virtual campus tour online, or check out more Florida State swimming photos and information at the Seminoles Swimming and Diving webpage.

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