Athlete Diary: Billy Bennett

When I first heard about the news about the season coming to an end I was very upset. I was at home this summer with my family. Over winter break last year I had surgery to repair my labrum and rotator cuff in my shoulder. Our swim season had just ended for the year and to hear that next season may not happen was very hard. Thankfully, as we have been back to school this year, we have been able to get into the pool and work out. There are many new rules and restrictions we have to follow with the pandemic, but we can start somewhat of a normal season as we hoped. 

Even with a short suspension at the beginning of the semester, we have been able to get back to work as a team and practice together. The season usually starts about a week or two after we get back to school in the fall semester and continues until our conference meet, which is usually scheduled for the end of February. We are training now, to prepare for that conference meet even though we may not have any meets to compete in this semester. 

My career in swimming has been full of ups and downs in such a short time. I started swimming competitively freshman year of high school. I did this on top of playing club baseball year-round as well as seasonally participating in other sports like cross country and soccer. Staying extremely busy competing in all these sports as well as a full workload from school has always been a central focus for me. I love competing and between that and school I did not have much time for anything else. Growing to love swimming and pursuing it in college has really had a great impact on my life. It is a very tough sport physically as well as mentally. In my career, as well as many other if not all athletes, I have had my fair share of injuries. I learn each year how important it is to take good care of your body by warming up and preparing for each activity as well as having the right diet. 

On top of all of this, the team I have has meant very much to me. Every sport seems to create an atmosphere so close it is often referred to as a “family.” In all the sports I have played, my swim family has proven to be a little extra special to me. We have gone through so much individually and together as a team, you seem to feel as if there is a bubble around the team and the pool wherever you are together. It has shown me a lot about how to rely on others and let others rely on you. I feel that because of these factors I have been able to be more level headed and organized as a person. It has kept me on track to be who I want to be by providing this atmosphere and honestly, just taking up so much of my time to force me to be on top of my things and keep moving in the right direction. 

I have had a range of different coaches in my life. At the start of my sophomore year, Valpo hired a new head coach and assistant coach. They have both had a huge impact on the team and me personally. Coach Maggie, our head coach, has completely reshaped the atmosphere as well as coach us to be much more competitive in our conference. This allowed us to have a huge freshman class this year and grow our team in numbers and strength. Individually this has allowed me to be named as one of the captains of the team. I have had to take on more responsibility this year regarding the team and I have grown even closer to the team and the program. My coaches as well as the training staff have been a huge part of my growth and success as a student and as an athlete. 

 

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