Learning from Sophomore Fall Stress at UT!

This is a post from YoungTri Contributor Patrick LaBrode

“The only thing holding you back is what’s between your ears.”

This quote defines my sophomore fall 2013 semester.  I had the hardest class schedule so far during my time at the University of Texas, and on top of that, the swim practices grew tougher as well. This semester was full of highs, and many lows, but finally finishing and looking back, it was an amazing learning experience.

I was nervous for this semester in the beginning because I was taking a tough courseload that had me in class on Mondays from 8am to 1pm, no breaks. And Tuesday nights I had a lab from 6pm to 10pm. I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance my swim/school schedule at first.

However, having an entire year’s worth of college swimming under my belt definitely made a difference this fall. This season I can finally push myself harder than what is expected, instead of being in “survival mode,” like I was during my freshman year! I was also swimming faster times in meets than I was a year ago, so I was stoked about that.

My fall semester was still enjoyable - despite the highs and lows!

My fall semester was still enjoyable – despite the highs and lows!

But, like with any years — lows came with some of the highs that accompanied my settling into the swim team. With the stress from class and my grades, (which were lower than what I hold myself to) I had a couple of break down points. Including our mid-season taper meet, the Texas Invitational.

This meet (early December) was supposed to be a really fast meet for all of us — and I was hoping to go best times early on in the season. I was feeling great going into it, but that week I ended up having 4 exams. So I spent the majority of the week stressing, studying, and not sleeping. It was a bad combo, and my body felt the effects from it. I began having really bad acid reflux and trouble breathing and my stroke broke down. Needless to say, it was probably one of the worst swim meets I’ve ever had.

Although it was disappointing, I am (thankfully) pretty good at putting bad swims behind me. And I had finals the next week, so I had to focus on those — and didn’t have time to dwell on the past. I studied all week for finals and my grades came out a lot better than I had expected. And my swimming continued to improve as the semester went on from my newfound balance and focus.

Great to be back with my family over break!

Great to be back with my family over break!

Looking back on my semester, I realized I was always just a couple steps behind in my classes, always struggling to catch up. If I had put in the work early on (like I did at the end of the semester) my GPA, swimming, and self would have been much better! Through this experience, I realized that it’s important when you find yourself struggling with school and training to sit down, breathe, and write down a plan for yourself. You may be holding yourself back and be further along than you think 🙂

Here’s to a relaxing break and great spring semester!

-Patrick LaBrode

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