The College Tour…Swimmer Style

My freshman and I scoped out pools and athletic facilities at colleges long before my daughter applied to colleges. Even though my 11th grade daughter was closer to looking at colleges, the 9th grader gained insight into what she wanted in a college, too. Each weekend my freshman daughter and I embarked on a mini college campus tour of sorts.

As a club team swimmer, my daughter swam at meets at colleges throughout Maryland. My daughter was starting to consider what she wanted from a college. Though in 8th grade, she never expressed any interest in swimming in college or even attending college, by 9th grade she was beginning to consider becoming a student-athlete.

As she swam her events at each swim meet, I took mental notes of what each campus had to offer students.

University of Maryland Baltimore County

  • The University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Golden Retriever dog statue begs for a nose rub. How could I walk past this statue without rubbing his nose for good luck! The UMBC Retriever is the sibling mascot to University of Maryland College Park’s Testudo.
  • There are two pools at UMBC…the main pool is for competition swimming and the practice pool is for swimmers to cool down after racing in the competitive pool.
  • Located just outside Baltimore in Catonsville, Maryland, UMBC has a small college vibe on a large campus.

Community College of Baltimore County

  • A stone’s throw and short drive from UMBC is the campus of the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).
  • A tree-lined campus with convenient walking paths, roads, and multiple commuter parking lots, the CCBC pool is small…very small.

Swim team practice is still at the local health club, but the meets are all over the state of Maryland. My poor minivan’s odometer shows the toll of trekking us from one swim meet to the next. Swim meets are huge events, with multiple swimmers and as such usually take place at local colleges and universities.

Though we only see the pool and athletic facilities when we swim, we have visited a number of local colleges and universities. I never thought I would be doing the college tour with my 9th grader!

So where have our travels taken us? With my daughter now a high school freshman, these swim meets are becoming an almost weekly event. In fact, not a weekend goes by that we aren’t heading to a college campus pool for a swim meet.

My swimmer spends hours in the pool happily swimming laps with the club’s swim team. Swimming means hopping in the car, driving to the pool, swimming for a few hours, and then going home. For my children, swimming is their sport of choice. For me, swimming is an endurance activity of long practices, even longer swim meets, and the driving–oh my–the driving.

In the early days of year round swimming, the commitment was doable…two practices a week, with a swim meet once every month or so. The swim team used a local health club for practices and some meets. Swim practice was a short car ride away. I look back on those early days as “swim team lite.”

P.S. I wrote this post in 2012/2013! My then-9th grader went on to swim NCAA D2. Loved every minute even having to red shirt due to an injury. Don’t get me wrong, she hated being injured. She started swimming at 5, ended her swim career at 21. My swim mom career ended with hers!

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