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A PIECE OF ANDREA'S STORY

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Today's story is all about Andrea. She's a D1 athlete studying psychology but getting there wasn't easy. We're hoping that this inspiring story will ignite yourself to do everything it takes to reach your goals just like she did!

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO RIGHT NOW?

Currently, I am finishing up my spring semester of junior year as a psychology major at San Diego State University. I am on the NCAA Division-I swim team at SDSU and currently we are in off-season, so I am training about 12 hours a week, 8 hours less than in-season, so it is a lot more laid back right now training wise! 

SO YOU STARTED SWIMMING WHEN YOU WERE JUST A KID, HOW DID IT BECOME YOUR PASSION?

I think I was 12 when my interest in swimming truly turned into a passion. I have been a competitive swimmer since I was 5 years old, I was able to float in the water on my own at 6 months old, before I was even able to walk. Since the beginning, I loved going to practice and getting to be on a team with all my friends, but the age of 12 is when I really started to dedicate my whole life to the sport of swimming. In middle school, I started to swim 20 hours on a local club team. I was a state champion at the age of 13 for Michigan Swimming in the 100 yard backstroke and then my freshman year in high school, I was the Michigan High School Division 1 state champion in the 100 backstroke as well. These two moments are when my passion grew into something more than I ever thought it would turn into. This was also the time when I decided that my goal was going to be to become a Division-I collegiate swimmer.

WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME IN YOUR SWIMMING CAREER?

There have been two major obstacles that I have had to overcome over the past few years. The first obstacle happened during the summer before my senior year of high school. I was hit by a drunk driver. The doctors at the hospital and the fire fighters who cut my out of the car both told me that if my car hadn't had side air bags, I would have died that sunny afternoon when I was hit. I was in the hospital for seven hours and thankfully all that happened to me was that I was diagnosed with severe soft tissue damage, something that could only be fixed with time. I wasn't allowed to swim for quite awhile, but I was definitely determined to still reach my goal of becoming a division one swimmer. It was hard to get recruited by schools once I told them that I hadn't been swimming or training barely at all during my senior year of high school, but I was lucky enough to find a coach that believed I could still succeed in the pool. I committed to Western Kentucky University in November of my senior year of high school; I had reached my goal!

The second obstacle that came my way tested my character an extreme amount. It was the end of my sophomore year at WKU. On April 14th, 2015, our team was suspended for five years due to hazing allegations, which majority of the allegations were proven to be completely false or extremely exaggerated. My heart was torn into pieces when this happened. The people on my team were my family and no one deserved what happened to us. At that point, I had to decide whether to transfer to another school and continue my swimming career, or stay at WKU and complete my psychology degree there. I didn’t want to leave my teammates at WKU or my boyfriend, who was also on the team but decided he was going to stay at WKU. It ultimately came down to the fact that I was determined to complete my goal of wanting to be a collegiate athlete for 4 years. I wanted to say that I finished, that I did it. That meant I had to go through the recruiting process all over again. Over the next few weeks, I talked to many coaches and went to visit some more schools. My second trip was to San Diego State. I loved the girls on the team at SDSU and I was offered a great scholarship, so I decided I would complete my swimming career at San Diego State University. And that is where I am now!

HOW DO YOU REPRESENT THE TRAIT DETERMINED?

I feel like I represent the trait determined very strongly because of my passion to do whatever it takes to succeed. Not only in swimming, but in academics and my relationships as well. I know how to put my head down and push through anything. At practice when we have a hard set, I grit my teeth and think about the end goal. When I don’t want to study for a test, I think of my dream of getting my Ph.D in Sport Psychology. I am committed to reaching my goals and if I fall short I know I will be disappointed, so that is why I work so incredibly hard day in and day out. Also, because I am so far from all my friends and family in Kentucky and Michigan, it takes a lot of dedicated work and time to stay in touch with them all. Being in a long distance relationship of 3,000 miles also takes a lot of dedication, trust and determination to make it work! Even though its extremely hard, it is one hundred percent worth it and that’s what motivates me to keep all my relationships strong. 

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN A DETERMINED PERSON? WAS THERE A DEFINING MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE THAT MADE YOU AS DETERMINED AS YOU ARE TODAY?

I think I have always had determination within myself, there is no real defining moment I can pick out. When I was ten years old or so, I made a shadow box of my dream of getting first place in the olympics (which is still sitting on my shelf in my bedroom at home in Michigan). I also was very adamant at always having goals set for my future. I always had my goal times set at the beginning of the swimming season that were always in the back of my mind during every practice. As I grow older, I truly think that I have grown as a person and with that my determination has grown stronger. I think that where I have grown the most is within my education. Now that I know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life, and how to get there, I am working hard every day to reach that goal.

HOW DO YOU USE YOUR DETERMINED PERSONALITY ON A DAILY BASIS?

Every day I use my determined personality to simply get out of bed with a positive attitude. I am really big on positivity and I truly believe you will not grow into a better, more mature, person if you are negative about life. My determination follows me through my passion of swimming. Especially right now in off-season, I have no meets that I am training for at the moment, so it is a little tough to be training now because there is no “end in sight.” But my determined and goal-oriented personality is always thinking about the bigger picture. I also work hard at school and my future every day which is definitely another way I used my determined personality.

DO YOU FIND THAT YOUR DETERMINATION RUBS OFF ON OTHERS? HOW SO?

Yes! Positive attitudes are always contagious and determination definitely falls into the category of positivity! To be a good leader, it is important to be determined. As an upcoming senior on my swim team, it is crucial to be a good role model for the younger girls on the team, especially for the new freshman coming in. Being a determined athlete as well as a student rubs off on others because everyone wants to succeed. I think my determination specifically rubs off on others because my kind of determined attitude is not overwhelming or intense, it is fun. The happiest and most successful athletes are the ones having fun and enjoying every second of the experience and that is what I try to do every day.

WHO IS YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION AND HAVE THEY INFLUENCED YOU TO BE A DETERMINED PERSON?

My greatest inspirations are definitely my parents, hands down. My dad swam at Oakland University, a university in Michigan, and there he was 28 time All-American and he finished top ten in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the Olympic Trials in 1988. Hearing my dad’s amazing stories at a young age of all his achievements really inspired me to be like him. It sparked my determination to be successful in the sport of swimming just like my dad was. My mom swam as well, but she influenced me to be a determined person in a different way. She started telling me at a very young age, “the mind is a powerful thing.” Her wise words helped me through a lot of hard practices and a lot of hard obstacles I had to face throughout my life. I still hear her saying “mind of matter!” in my head on a daily basis during practices.

 WHAT ARE YOU GOALS, HOPES AND DREAMS? WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE FUTURE?

With one year left of swimming, I hope to finish on a strong, positive note. Yes, of course it would be amazing to drop time and go to NCAA’s, the fastest meet in the world. If it doesn’t happen, of course I will be disappointed in myself. But I think my determination has shifted focus now that I am realizing that I am so close to the end of my 17 year swimming career. I am determined to have fun with my teammates during my last season at San Diego State.

After swimming, and after graduating with a psychology degree from SDSU, my goal is to attend a Masters program for Sport Psychology and then go on to earn my Ph.D. in Sport Psychology. I hope to start my own private practice in Tennessee, where I will start a family and have the satisfaction of having my dream job of working as a Sport Psychologist. I look forward to helping athletes of all ages and at all different levels to realize the power of the mind - something that helped me through a lot of hard times throughout my many years in athletics.

WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER WOMAN WHO MIGHT ALSO BE FACING A DIFFICULT OBSTACLE IN THEIR LIFE LIKE YOU HAD?

I know it is extremely cliche, but my piece of advice is “Everything happens for a reason.” God has a plan for each and every one of us. If your life isn’t okay, then it isn't the end! Everything will get better even if it seems like there is no way that it could. There is a positive to everything that happens in life, even if it takes a little bit longer to realize it. After my car accident, it opened my eyes to a whole new respect and appreciation for life. After my team was suspended I thought my whole world was crashing down. But now, after both instances, I am on my feet and stronger than ever. Every situation, good or bad, helps you to grow into the woman you were meant to be.

Check out more Andrea on social media below!

TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Twitter: @drea_vandermey

Instagram: @andrea_vandermey