This love letter to the sport comes from Carli Snyder, a graduating senior from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). Carli originally made the post on her blog here, fresh off her final Northwest Conference Championship meet. Carli’s pictured (below, right) with eight graduating seniors. As a freshman in 2014, this crew helped PLU win the Northwest Conference title; the first women’s title for PLU in 18 years. As a group, they won three conference titles in four years.
First of all, I love you. I’m so sorry I said I hated you so many times over the years. I really didn’t mean it. Well, a lot of times I did mean it, but I’m so glad I never quit. Honestly, though you are the greatest thing that ever happened to me; I can’t imagine myself without you.
I want to thank you.
Thank you for making me tough. Thanks for the time I swam the 500 when I was 8. For all the times my goggles filled up, fell off, or slipped around my neck. For the Brute Squad meet and the 400 IM and 200 fly in the same day. For the 5 hour practice during winter training. For all the times I jumped in the pool before the sun rose.
Thanks for making me physically strong and helping me respect my body. For my swimmer's shoulders. For seeing the benefits in my big, goofy, flat feet. For my powerful quads. For my insane lung capacity.
Thanks for helping me face disappointment, learn from it and grow. You have to be humble in a sport where you’re measured by the clock that does not lie.
Thanks for the fun. For the road trips with my mommy all over Colorado. For the donuts and Starbucks runs at 5:30 in the morning. For going to watch the 2008 Olympic trials with my dad. For the pasta parties. For the nights in hotels giggling with teammates about our freshly shaven legs. For the crushes on teammates that made going to practice a little more exciting. For follow the leader out on Foss Field.
Thanks for all the coaches that shaped me and challenged me. For the hundreds of teammates that I grew up with, competed with, and created so many memories with.
I gained so many second moms over the years because of you…the greatest, largest extended family I could have never imagined. Loving, kind people who have taken care of me, fed me, cheered for me, hugged me, and welcomed me into their homes and into their families.
Because of you, I’ve also impacted the lives of children. Letting go of a once-terrified three-year-old who finally realized that the water truly will hold you up. Showing a four-year-old’s mom that they can swim backstroke for a full 25 with no help after just one week of lessons. Coached two groups of middle schoolers who became friends with each other, joined year round club and made state cuts. Those have been the most humbling and wonderful moments imaginable.
You brought me comfort in a different country. Four days into my study away experience, I found a pool and I met Dutch friends instantly because we had swimming in common. You helped me see the beauty in meeting new people through this sport. In the water, I felt at home and now I know I can always go home, no matter where I go.
You are what brought me to PLU. You introduced me to Matt Sellman. (Coach, you have changed my life.) My happiest and proudest college moments have stemmed from my time in the pool.
Most importantly, you led me to my best friends, and for that, I am endlessly grateful.
I know that I’ll never really be done with you, but this feels so hard right now. It feels like a bittersweet break-up or a close friend moving away. You have always been my life and my identity and have provided me with multiple chlorinated safe havens. I really can’t believe our long run is over in a way. You are so special to me.