5 ways to expertly balance school and swimming

By Caitlin Daday

One often over-looked difficulty of any sport at the college level is the need for student-athletes to be just that–STUDENT-athletes. From the outside, most of our non-athlete peers only see the glamours but tend to forget that being an athlete is not always as easy as it looks.

Student-athletes not only have to make all the normal adjustments of coming to college, but also have to adapt to college level athletics, which includes new things such as early morning workouts and strength and conditioning, as well as a more difficult academic load. With 20 hours of sport in season on top of classes and outside work, being a student-athlete is equivalent to having a full-time job, plus some.

Though difficult, it is not nearly impossible to balance school and swimming. With these five expert tips, you will be on your way to a 4.0 in no time:

1. Make a Detailed Schedule

The biggest problem most student-athletes have in balancing their athletics and academics is time-management. The key is being able to set aside enough time to study, eat, sleep, and do all the other things they need to do to be at the top of both their athletic and academic game. For most people, this skill doesn’t come naturally, so it is helpful to sit down and plan out your week ahead of time.

The most successful student-athletes are good at staying organized. They know what they need to be doing and when, and they take advantage of every free opportunity they have to be doing something to further either their athletics or their academics. With a detailed schedule planned out at the start of the week, it is easy to make sure you are getting everything done in plenty of time.

2. Multi-Task

Another skill that successful student-athletes have is the ability to multi-task. Again, as busy as we are, we need to take advantage of every bit of free time we have. Some days, that may mean pulling out a bit of reading while you eat lunch. Other days it may mean taking work with you while you travel so you don’t get behind.

Sometimes multi-tasking might not be the most convenient or the easiest option (i.e. trying to read on a bus when you have motion sickness), but it has to be done. The student-athletes who are most successful at balancing their school work and swimming are almost always willing to at least give multi-tasking a shot so they do not get behind.

3. Ask for Help

If you are struggling with something, do not try to handle it yourself. Ask someone. Getting the help, you need will make the work easier, instead of just wasting your time with something you do not understand.

Many student-athletes wait until it’s too late to get the help they need. The longer you wait, the harder it is to redeem yourself and your grades. The most successful student-athletes get help early on to ensure they keep ahead of the curve.

4. Communicate

Simple communication is one of the biggest tools to success. Let people know what you are doing. Whether you are doing well, or you are struggling, let someone know. Your professors, coaches, parents, friends–they all want to make sure you are doing alright and are able to balance all parts of your life. They are your support system and how you are managing is important to them.

Communication is particularly important when you have to miss class for meets. Generally, professors should be understanding, but you need to stay on top of letting them know so you can work everything out well in advance.

5. Stay Calm

Balancing school and swimming can be stressful to say the least. But part of dealing with the challenge is not letting it get to you. Letting yourself get too obsessed with managing everything turns bad quickly, so it is important to stay relaxed in order to be the most successful. Yes, it is difficult when you have two tests and three papers all over the course of two days, but there is no sense in getting crazy over it.

As busy as we all are, it is important to take a bit of time to be calm, relax, and enjoy yourself. Running on four hours of sleep does you no good, athletically or academically. Only doing school work in your free time will make you insane. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to be truly successful at both school and swimming. The idea may seem contradictory, but in the end, you will benefit more in every way from not getting too stressed.