Q & A From Des Cairns Returning Athlete
Q. What made you decide to compete and study at a US college?
A. "I decided to compete and study in the US because I wanted to continue swimming in an environment that was supportive and understood my educational goals. My decision also gave me the experience of living and studying in another country"
Q. How did you commence the process and how long did it take?
A. "A friend referred me to AAS toward the end of Year 11. Once we had gathered all the necessary documents and I had taken the SAT, AAS began contacting coaches on my behalf. By the second semester of Year 12, I was talking directly with coaches and by the end of that year I had decided on my university"
Q. How did it compare to competing in your sport in Australia?
A. "The camaraderie between my American teammates was much stronger than anything I had experienced in Australia. This was because the success of the program was measured predominantly by the team’s score at the conference meet, and to a lesser extent, the results of dual meets. I also found that I was encouraged to practice more events because each swimmer has to compete in three events at each meet"
Q. What qualities do you feel a student athlete needs to possess to be successful at a US university?
A. "My American university provided considerable support for their student-athletes and as such I think it is important for students to be willing to seek out these services when appropriate. I also think that in order to make their study-abroad as enjoyable as possible, foreign student-athletes should be open to experiencing as many aspects of American culture as possible"
Q. How did you balance your athletic and academic interests during your scholarship?
A. "Developing consistent study habits and remaining organised were important in ensuring that I kept up with my coursework. However my coaches were always very understanding when it came to schoolwork and this prevented me from having too many conflicts or getting overwhelmed"
Q. What are the key challenges you encountered during your scholarship?
A. "The only challenge I’ve faced in America is bringing myself to leave at the end of my degree. I’ve had such a positive experience in the US that I’ve decided to stay after graduation"
Q. What were some of your most memorable moments during your experience?
A. "Every January we would have a training camp in warmer locations to escape the snow and boost team moral. On these trips to Florida, Peurto Rico and Colorado, the intense workouts and other activities we did as a team helped me to form strong bonds with my teammates"
Q. Would you recommend other students consider a US scholarship experience?
A. "I would recommend it to anyone that’s interested. I think that there enough universities in the US that everyone can find one that suits them"
Q. How did you benefit from studying and competing in the US college system?
A. "The US college system gave me the opportunity to extend my swimming career for another four years, without compromising my scholastic pursuits. It allowed me to continue practicing swimming at a level that fulfilled my competitiveness and in doing so, helped me to unlock more of potential. Outside of the pool, moving to the other side of the world taught me to be accountable and responsible. Lastly, through this experience, I met many great people that wouldn’t have crossed my path, otherwise"