Hi, Hoyas! This week, I interviewed varsity swimmer Jordan Gross (CAS ’24) to get a peek into the mind of an elite college athlete and get insight on how he achieves wellness through commitment to his sport and team.
I sought to answer a question that’s always eluded me: what motivates someone to commit to wellness at the highest level? In high school, I wanted to commit to a workout routine but never could due to academic and extracurricular commitments. But when I got to college, I found that I could suddenly live a life of wellness easily, and I was never able to put my finger on what changed. I hoped to solve this mystery by speaking with Gross, who has had to fully commit himself to his sport while maintaining a rigorous course load and balanced lifestyle.
College swimming is extremely intense, with a 20-hour in-season weekly practice schedule consisting of swim practice, lifting and weekly meets. Gross, who has competed at this high level for more than a decade, affirmed just how difficult this level of athletic competition is, especially when coupled with maintaining a full life as a Georgetown University student.
To start my quest for answers, I examined Gross’ practice schedule. For those of you like me who don’t have a clue what “Z2” means, don’t worry — I won’t get into any swimmer jargon, although I’m happy to finally understand the vocabulary these athletes use daily.
When looking through his schedule, I began to understand one reason why Gross and his peers can remain so strongly committed to their sport in the face of such demanding practice requirements: their training is tailored to their needs.
All 60 members of the swim team have different schedules, with each day focusing on improvement in specific areas: longer aerobic distances, aerobic stroke work, speed production, racing and race pace. These swimmers take an almost scientific approach to their sport, tackling each small goal they set until they accomplish their major ones, including winning the Big East Swimming and Diving Championship, like the men’s team did last year.
Seeing this laid out in Gross’ practice schedule helped me realize that incorporating variety and achievable short-term tasks into my wellness is necessary to meeting my goals and retaining interest in my wellness journey. For the exercise example, this might be creating a schedule that focuses on a different muscle group or different activity — such as cycling or yoga — each day of the week. Like swimmers, we must follow schedules that are tailored to our strengths and weaknesses.
The answer to my mystery was more than custom schedules, however. I wanted to know what could help me stay motivated to follow my schedule, so I once again turned to Gross. He mentioned accountability through community, expressing gratitude in his 59 teammates and their ability to push him to reach his potential every day.
I realized that I had already created my own similar system of accountability: I lift and practice yoga with supportive gym partners. Knowing that other people want you to succeed can serve as strong external accountability, helping you stay on track to achieve your goals.
Thanks to Gross, I’ve learned that in order to stay well, I need a system of accountability, variety in my schedule, specific and attainable goals and above all, joy.
Wellness should not be an unpalatable substance we force ourselves to consume each day, but rather a delicacy we cannot wait to enjoy. Stay happy and healthy, Hoyas!
P.S. If you find yourself wanting to start swimming after hearing Gross’ story, I encourage you to consider attending a Georgetown Club Swim practice. President Carolene Fouty (CAS ’23) can attest to the supportive community you will find there, and told me joining the team was one of the best choices she has made at Georgetown.
Sophia Williams is a first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences. Wellness Personalis will appear online and in print every other week.