Swimming Through Texas: Overcoming Obstacles as a UT Freshman Swimmer

this is the third post in a series by YoungTri Executive Board member Patrick LaBrode about competing on the University of Texas at Austin swim team

As my first year at The University of Texas recently came to an end, I’ve been taking a look back at my entire year and season. My first year as a college athlete was nothing short of amazing! From the very start I just knew I belonged at Texas, and every day was a blessing. But that’s not to say there weren’t any obstacles I had to get over throughout the course of the year.

As a student, college classes were not easy. I came into my freshman year thinking it wouldn’t be much different than high school — but I as wrong. I had to pull multiple all-nighters (living off coffee and popcorn)! Balancing swim, school, friends, relaxation, and everything else was not easy — but it was always an awesome adventure.


the pool at UT!

As a swimmer, things got pretty tough. I was training harder than I’ve ever trained — with longer practices, more yards, weights, drylands…etc. I even put on over 15 pounds in my first collegiate swim season. Having said this, my first semester of training overall went quite well! I was working hard each day, and posting some fast times at meets. I survived the rough Christmas break training, and was looking forward to the end of the season taper!

But then — just as I thought everything was going quite well — a major obstacle was thrown at me.

Come mid-January, I discovered that I was having extra heartbeats during practice. They didn’t hurt or cause me to feel dizzy or anything — these beats were just not normal. I went to the cardiologist and was given an “event recorder” to monitor my heart rhythm during practice and when I was having these extra beats. As these beats began getting more frequent, I began stressing myself out and thought something was seriously wrong with me. But the cardiologist concluded that I just had pre-ventricle contractions, which are not harmful at all (which was a huge relief).


go Longhorns!

Just when I thought everything was okay, I began having trouble catching my breath during practice. I wasn’t getting that full satisfying deep breath that swimmers crave during a workout or race, and it was affecting my practices and my racing. And just if things couldn’t get any worse, I ended up catching a stomach virus, which had me basically out of practice for a full week. Finally, the virus went away, my heartbeats were normal, and my breathing was getting better. Going into my taper meet (end of February) I wasn’t sure how I was going to swim. My training for the past month and a half had not been up to my usual standards at all, and I was worried. But I just had to stay positive — and focus on doing well in the present — not my past obstacles.

I ended up posting best times in all of my events — maybe not by a ton — but it was a huge relief! Based on my past conditions, I was happy about my performance and finished the season strong.

My obstacles were very normal for any athlete. Athletes are always having tears here, breaks there, and overall sicknesses — but you can’t get discouraged by the setbacks that may come your way. All you need to do is listen to your coaches, your doctor, and stay positive. You can overcome any obstacle with a positive outlook on the situation.


enjoying some time home with friends after my first year swimming at UT!

I’m looking forward to the next three years as a Texas swimmer! What obstacles have you dealt with in the athletic realm recently? How have you overcome them?

Stay strong,
Patrick LaBrode