As a swimming student-athlete in college, I never had time to work a job; surviving studies and athletics was my job. Swimming, or any serious sport, in college is a huge time commitment; NCAA rules allow no more than 20 hours a week of Coach-required practice time; every second is used. If you wanted to count up the hours I had locked down on paper every week, it would add up to 35 hours, 20 spent swimming, or lifting, or running, and 15 spent on class credits.
That’s not even a full time job, but I haven’t even considered yet the constant exhaustion and actual swim competitions. Being a student athlete is very close to running your own business, you may have scheduled work hours, but you’re never really off the clock. Every decision you make must account for the health of your body, you can’t eat crap, you cannot skip a meal, and there is no such thing as a fun weekend without consequence.
The body requires constant and regimented maintenance, exactly like a business. You can’t take a day off and return exactly as you left: you’ve lost custumers in that day; you’ve wasted money on rent. As the primary investor and operator, you directly feel your success or failure, and no one else can transform into some kind of bloated cash maker. This requires time, this requires discipline, this requires early mornings and late nights every day for months, and years. It’s worth working for; it’s something you can call your own.
Alex Lutterbein, staff writer for Venture Up, is an All American Swimmer and recent graduate of Virginia Tech.