Athlete Diary: Rick Renner

I should first state that I was one of the very few that was lucky to finish their season before the pandemic started. I was glad that I (at least) had the chance to compete in the swimming conference, but having to hear that many other teams and college sports ending their seasons because of the COVID-19 was hard to imagine. 


The day the news broke was when I was with my family back home in Virginia. I remember my parents asking me about my season. Would we have a season coming back to school? Would we ever get the chance to compete again? I didn’t know the answers to those questions at all. The worst news of all was when we all had to switch to online learning.


At first, it was a challenge. The challenge wasn’t just the technological part, the google hangouts or having to set up a new Zoom account for online classes. Rather the challenge was motivating myself to do this. As a person who highly prefers in-person lectures, online classes were hard for me to focus. 


Fortunately, I was with my family. I was happy to be with them in times where there is a global pandemic. My parents always motivate me to strive and to work hard, even in the most difficult times. As the days continued, the challenges I faced with online learning became less difficult and easier to manage. It was a new experience, but at the end, I was able to do it. 


If our season was suspended, I would still train for swimming. Even with the pandemic going on, I had to find ways to stay in shape. Aside from eating healthy and not gaining too much weight, there were also the workouts and training sessions I had to complete. Obviously, the rec centers and the pools are closed for a while. 


I still continued to train for swimming no matter what, even if it meant just running and working out. Fortunately in June, some of the pools in my neighborhood were opening up. The best news was that my old club team decided to do practices in the morning. I was glad to have that opportunity during the summer. I was glad that I was able to train.


I look back at my swimming career and see that I have made a choice that has impacted my life in a positive way. Ten years ago, I started swimming lessons just so I wouldn’t have to drown in the deep end. Later, of course, I found out that my father was a swimmer when he was young. After some thought, I talked to my parents about joining a swim team and that I wanted to do what my father did back then. Since then I have no regrets whatsoever. 


As for college, I am very happy that I made the decision to be a walk-on and to swim for Valpo. All of my teammates and the coaching staff have been very helpful, full of encouragement, and are always there for each other. 


The impact that the coaching staff brought to me is a very positive one. One where encouragement and motivation are what both of my coaches bring to me and to the team as well. I thank both Coach Maggie and Coach Bogdan for all of their advice and support they bring to the team every single day. I also like to thank them both for maintaining some optimism during the pandemic and for reaching out to all of us during the pandemic. That is the impact the coaching staff brings to the team.


The views are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect on The Torch.

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