While quarantine has proved to be an obstacle for many student-athletes, senior and swimmer Sean Swift landed an opportunity to fulfill a long-time vision by committing to swim at UC Berkeley. Swift, who had verbally committed to Indiana last fall, opted to revoke that commitment and instead head to Cal, where he has high hopes of receiving a quality education while also being closer to his family.
“One reason why I chose Cal over Indiana was that Cal is way closer to home, which suits me and my family much better,” said Swift. “Academically, Cal is better and I wanted to take advantage of getting a better education.”
For Swift, being at Cal also means that he’ll be able to continue swimming in his preferred outdoor environment.
“Staying in California and swimming outdoors have both been things I’ve wanted to pursue at college,” said Swift. “Cal provides me the opportunity to achieve both of these things.”
Though Swift is thrilled to be able to stay in California, deciding to de-commit from Indiana, with one of the nation’s top swimming programs, was not an easy one.
“Being that Indiana is the third-best swimming school in the country, walking away from that was not easy for me,” said Swift. “But in the end, my parents supported my dream of going to Cal and they are super excited for what’s to come.”
When asked about their son’s commitment to Cal, Swift’s parents said, “This has been his whole life and the decision needs to be up to him. We support him no matter what.”
Quarantine efforts and future goals
As the country shut down in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, school and club sports leagues were required to stop all athletic activities, leaving student-athletes stranded mid-season with nowhere to practice their sport. Unfortunately for Swift and other swimmers, that meant a canceled high school championship for junior year.
However, as restrictions have loosened up, most club sports teams have resumed training with safety precautions.
“At the very beginning of quarantine, I took around 7 weeks off of swimming, which is the most I’ve ever taken off since I was four,” said Swift. “But right now I have resumed swimming [for my club team] 6 days a week with small modifications, such as having one person per lane, which doesn’t bother me too much.”
Many school sports teams are yet to be cleared to resume practice for the modified fall season. Swift, who holds the 100-meter breaststroke and 200 meter IM records at Rio, is hopeful to have a final high school season, which is set to begin Mar. 1.
“I’m hoping we have a high school season so I can beat my own records & make them faster,” said Swift.
While preparing for his final swimming season as a high schooler, Swift is already setting in mind goals for his collegiate swimming career. At Cal, the reigning NCAA champions from 2019, Swift will be joining a talented squad full of ranked recruits and NCAA qualifiers.
“I hope to be able to make the NCAA’s freshman year and bring the Bears another championship,” said Swift.
Reflecting on the journey
For Swift, swimming has been a large part of his life for as long as he can remember. Though the sport is very physically demanding and time-consuming, Swift is grateful for the friends he’s made, as well as the plethora of opportunities the sport has provided him with.
“My favorite part of swimming has always been the friends I’ve made and becoming really close with an amazing group of people,” said Swift. “Also, I’ve traveled all over the country because of the sport, and looking back on my journey, I’ve been very fortunate to do that.”
After doing the same, Swift encourages athletes looking to swim in college to reach out to schools and show their interest.
“My advice to other swimmers looking to attend college is to not be afraid to reach out to schools that you are interested in,” said Swift. “It’s always a good thing to let schools know you are truly interested in what a school has to offer, both inside and outside of the sport.”
With the fate of school sports at the hands of COVID-19, Swift will continue his weekly practice regimen hoping to have one final shot at breaking his previous school records. Despite a questionable sports season to come, Swift has a bright future ahead of him, swimming for one of the top athletic and academic schools in the country.