From athlete to NARP

Alison Murtagh

Ever since I was 10 years old I have swam competitively. Every day, I logged long hours both in the pool and in the gym. As I became older, and swimming became more intense, I entered a phase when I swam seven days a week. Some days had two practices, while others were just one early morning practice. However, one thing remained constant: there was no “off season” in the sport of swimming.

When I came on my recruiting trip in the fall of my senior year of high school, members of the W&L team informed me that I only had mandatory practices from October to February, and then the season was over. I was shocked. For the first time in my life, I would have time off from swim- ming. Let’s just say I was thrilled at the idea of it.

I began training for swimming in September, attending Captain’s Practices. While these practices are not mandatory, it is recommended to go because they help you stay in shape. Then, we rolled right into the start of the season, and for five months I once again logged long hours both in and out of the pool.

Fast forward to the end of February, and I had completed my first season as a college athlete. I was free of swimming for a few months and felt like I had all the time in the world without practices and meets filling my schedule. The first week felt like a dream, filled with naps and going out. However, my life as a NARP (non-athletic regular person) soon lost some of its glory.

Going to the gym was hard enough while I was in season, but at least then I had my teammates with me and enjoyed myself. Going to the gym in the off-season was much worse. I found myself missing the banter with my fellow swimmers, and a sense of loneliness crept in as I cycled through a weight circuit by myself.

So this year, I decided to change it. I found a teammate as a work-out buddy and hit the gym. I was more engaged in what I was doing, and even found myself enjoying my time on the bike as I chatted with my pal from my lane. I felt more motivated and once again like I was part of a team.

As I continue my eight months as a NARP, I will remember what it’s like when I’m in season to help me stay motivated. I will continue to find new work-out buddies that are interested in the same workouts as me and will push myself to stay in shape for next season. I will try new things and take a break from spending every day in a pool. W&L students are lucky with the extensive workout classes offered—from TRX to yoga. Or maybe, I’ll take a run on the Woods Creek Trails. Opportunities are plentiful; they just need to be seized.

While I will continue to enjoy the naps that the extra time in my schedule now offers, I know that I will slowly get restless for the start of swim season. Nothing beats the adrenaline rush before a race or getting patted on the back by your teammates after a great swim. So, this year I will take advantage of my off-season and prepare to come back to the pool better than ever before.