By: Jacob Hevenor ’17
The Gordon College Swim Team is graduating four student-athletes within the next year. These four swimmers have dedicated countless hours to the team as well as their fitness and ability throughout their Gordon careers. Now, they have completed their last competitive meet as Gordon swimmers. Alex Hall, Langdon Kessner, Leah Snavely, and Dean Drukker reflect on their experiences.
Swimming at Gordon requires a massive time commitment – something that the athletes were more than ready to admit. But at the end of the day, they recognize that despite the sheer exhaustion, they have grown closer with their teammates and learned more about themselves.
“When balancing class, swim, work, it can become incredibly exhausting trying to keep up with every little thing. But after four years, I learned to manage what I can do, and I what I didn’t need to do. And swimming two practices a day over winter training can really take a toll on you. But that’s when you have the team bonding to fall back on, which is really what gets you through those bad weeks,” said Kessner.
“The hardest part about being an athlete is probably the time that it involves. People don’t realize how much time playing a sport actually takes, but from that I learned how to effectively manage my time, which is a skill that I will pull from my whole life,” said Hall.
Similarly, being on the swim team gave them life skills, bonds and stories that they never fully expected. Several swimmers reflected on how the swim team changed what they will take out of their college experience as a whole.
“Because I swim at Gordon, I decided to join the swim team of my university while I was studying abroad in Peru last semester. So I guess that didn’t change my overall Gordon experience but it really affected my study abroad experience since I was able to feel less like an outsider there,” said Snavely.
“The swim team has given me great relationships and memories with people that I will cherish forever. It was tough at times, but the community on the team, specifically this year, is so strong that it makes up for swimming 12 hours a week,” said Kessner.
“Athletics are the microcosm of life–it challenged me, taught me how to win and lose, work in a team setting, and taught me time management. This has been huge especially while at college,” said Hall.
What was your proudest moment as a Gordon swimmer?
Hall: “My proudest moments in my swimming career have occurred at the New England Championships. It is the time in the season where all of my hard work pays off. I love competing against myself and trying to beat my own best times. My very last race in my swimming career was the 50 Back, and I beat my own personal best time and finished 18th overall.”
Snavely: “This year at New England [Championships] I managed to make it back for finals every night of the meet, something I had never done in that past. This was especially incredible for me because I was able to get my best times even though I studied abroad this past fall.”
Unfortunately, despite the incredible dedication and commitment of Gordon’s swimmers, most students at Gordon could say they have never seen a swim meet. The swimmers believe that could change.
“It is long, and all of the races, strokes, and heats can get confusing. It isn’t the same as watching a soccer game where you can clearly tell who is winning. But if people understood the hype behind the block just before you dive into the water, they might be able to get more interested in the sport,” said Hall.
Kessner said, “Gordon Athletics could do a much better job of promoting us … it is frustrating that they don’t acknowledge the hard work that all of us put into the team. And I get that swimming doesn’t have the same allure as basketball or soccer, so it’s a tough sell. But more often than not, Gordon Athletics has treated us like we’re just a club sport, not DIII athletes.”
Leaving such a tightly-knit community can be difficult, but the departing swimmers are excited to see the team continue to grow and develop after their departure. The future seems bright for Gordon Swimming.
“I’m excited to see where the team goes from here. I’m excited to see what our coaches, Skip Milne and Laurie Groff, will accomplish in the next season. Specifically for the Men’s team, I’m excited to see how the community will be even stronger from when Dean Drukker and I left it,” said Kessner.
“Right now the women’s team is really strong considering how small it is. For example, at New England’s this year they broke all three freestyle relay team records. They’re only losing two people this year (Alex & I), so hopefully more swimmers will come in to help fill out the team,” said Snavely.