Dear High School Freshman,

Focus on your academics as usual, but don’t lose sight of your goals in the pool. I know that you struggle to manage your time between the two. The reason that you’re struggling to balance them is that if you work too hard in the pool, you’re too tired to perform well in school, and if you’re too tired from staying up late doing homework, you’re too tired to do well in the pool. What you need to do is find a happy medium between the two. Learn what works and don’t rush the process.

You don’t know everything about your future – certain schools that you have your heart set on now do not end up recruiting you, and that is just life. You need to not focus on tailoring yourself to be a prime candidate for one school, but rather make yourself well rounded to be appealing to many schools. Focus on a few extracurricular activities other than swimming, and go as far as you can with just a few. Do not join as many clubs as possible because you think that quantity is more valuable than quality. It’s not.

As for your swimming, do not give up. Do not lose hope. Just maintain your confidence. Who cares if you’re short? You’re still short when you’re 19. But it doesn’t matter because some of the kids who are beating you right now end up quitting, while you go on to get a Division I scholarship and earn medals at national meets and conference championships.

Swimming is not just a sport in which we move through the water as fast as possible. It also acts as a training seminar for our time management skills, as well as our work ethic. Learn your rhythms and learn what is best.

One more thing that I learned in college that I didn’t in high school is that you don’t study effectively using rote memorization. Instead, I encourage you to study as though the material means something for your life. Relate the material to other things in your life and acquire an intimate level of understanding of all material studied. Trust me. Study smarter not harder.

Don’t stress the little things your freshman year of high school. Getting a B in World History and Geometry does not signal that the end of the road is near. Use your failures to turn them into lessons that will help you in the long run. If something clearly doesn’t work, like rote memorization, then you need to change it as soon as possible instead of waiting until you’re a senior.


Yourself 5 Years Later

(written 5 years later – after finishing freshman year in college)

Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college.  When she’s not researching college swim programs, she can be found at

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