I think we should move the start of the year to September 1st. Since I can remember, my life has been organized according to the rhythms of school – beginning in September and ending in June. And although I am not officially in school this year, on the 31st the tale tell butterflies came swarming in my stomach in the excitement of the adventure that has yet to come.
It looks to be a year filled of firsts and lasts. For the first time, I have been named a member of the United States National Team. The team is chosen based on the top six times posted during the year in any given event. I have been nominated for both the 200 Butterfly and the 400 IM. This honor is particularly special, since it has eluded me in the past years – for example, last year I finished 7th overall meaning I was just once place away. Additionally, this is quite possibly my last year training for the Olympics, meaning my last chance to receive the nomination. Four years ago I would have uttered this statement with trepidation. I did not, or could not, imagine my life without swimming. Now I can. I have come to the realization that it is a gift to compete and that I am not defined by numbers or seconds on a clock. Instead, it’s the friendships and the experiences that are made throughout the course of a career that are of importance. I am looking forward to this last year of swimming, especially the challenges that it will present as I attempt to prepare myself to the highest levels. But mostly, I am looking forward to friendships that will be forged and cemented through the many hours training.
This is also the first year that I am will not be directly affiliated with a university. I “left” the university world last fall when I finished my Master’s degree. That being said, you do not need an institution to study. This past year I have been working with my thesis advisor to write a joint-article on Las Descalzas Reales. This means that when I am not giving tours, I am back in the archives, uncovering the intricacies of life in this royal convent. I am trying my best to take advantage of all that Spain has to offer, since this will be my last full year in Spain as I intend to apply to PhD programs in the US this fall. Fortunately, I do not have to say goodbye to this country quite yet and still have many months of exploring, growing, and learning. I also know that due to my scholastic interests and friendship made throughout these last three years, I will never be away from Spain for too long.
As with any new start, I am quite inspired and motivated to tackle all that comes my way. Moreover, I have an inkling that we are embarking upon an unforgettable chapter in my life.