My W&L: Meredith Hardy '14

When I visited W&L in the fall of 2009 on my swimming recruiting trip, I was immediately impressed by the University's academics, honor and traditions. However, I was sold by the potential of the team itself, but not only by their athletic achievements. It was the relationships that I sought to build with my future teammates and coaches that convinced me to apply. Fast forward four and a half years, and the family that I surrounded myself with at the pool defines my experience at W&L.

I can count on my teammates for anything. Whether it is someone to consume large amounts of food with or a compassionate ear to listen to any concern I may have, I know that one of my teammates is available for whatever I need. I can count on these men and women to push me beyond my breaking point in the pool and the weight room so that I can do my best in competition. Most of all, I can count on them to care deeply about each other and each other's needs, because that is what one team and one family does.

As a captain this past season, it was an honor to be one of the team's guides through early morning swims, strenuous weight room sessions, and our infamous winter training trip to Miami. It was also a tremendous honor and pleasure to watch my teammates achieve what they did this season. Whether it was a personal best, an ODAC championship, an NCAA-qualifying time, or just a well-swum race, everyone had something to be proud of at some point during the season.

It is not easy being a student-athlete at any level of competition in the NCAA. You must balance academics, training sessions, extracurriculars, competitions, travel, a "healthy" diet (after practice, anything within reach), and enough sleep to get through the week. However, when you have 43 teammates to share this burden (and 3 coaches to lift you up when you need it), it becomes easier to handle. We all share the same goals and interest in each other. It is the support we gain from being a member of such an incredible team that helps us retain focus and makes the black line at the bottom of the pool a little less redundant.

This is my family at W&L. It has grown and changed over four years, culminating in a group of people that have had incredible influence over my time here. They have shaped who I am today and continue to inspire who I will be tomorrow. This feeling of community and potential for life-changing relationships is available in so many arenas at W&L. Whether it's academics, athletics, clubs, committees, service or social interactions, there is something here for everyone. I am so fortunate to have found my community—what's out there for you?