Here in south Florida, school has now been in session for a few weeks. With every new school year comes a new group of freshmen. Coming from all sorts of backgrounds and over 30 different middle schools across the county, they flock to high school in a ball of nerves. Some are excited for the new beginning and the start of their secondary education. Some are terrified at the prospect of the loads of work they are rumored to receive and the sleepless nights filled with confusing homework.

For athletes, particularly swimmers, these fear may be amplified. On top of all this work, swimmers must also go to a practice every night and at least one meet per week. All of this work can take a toll on someone, especially when they have to get up at the crack of dawn every morning.

However, being a student athlete can also be a blessing. You come to a new school with a sort of immediate group of friends and support. Many of your fast friends on the team are experienced and come with plenty of advice.

As a sophomore in high school on a club swim team and on the high school swim team, I can attest to many of these fears and excitements. Now, it’s a new year and a new group freshman and with new every new year comes a new set of feelings and emotions.

I decided to attempt to capture these feelings through an interview with a new freshman at Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach, Florida, one of the most rigorous academic programs in the state. Freshman, Chiara Bell, not only swims for Suncoast, but she also swims for USA Swimming at North Palm Beach Swim Club. Bell is taking six honors classes and one AP, or college level course. All of these responsibilities could be overwhelming or exciting to a newbie. This is how she is feeling:

FSN: What program are you at Suncoast High School?

Bell: I’m in the IB program.

FSN: How has the workload been for you so far?

Bell: It’s pretty much what I expected, because I’m taking an AP course, but overall it’s not terrible so far.

FSN: How are your grades? Do you notice a difference in how they were in middle school?

Bell: I haven’t noticed a lot of difference, because my teachers have only graded a few things but so far I have all A’s and B’s.

FSN: How was your first high school meet compared to what you are used to? Did you enjoy the experience?

Bell: It was really fun being with all my friends and meeting other swimmers. The meet was pretty different to other meets because they only have one heat per event and they used an air horn instead of a beep, but overall I had a great time.

FSN: Has high school work and swimming taken a toll on how your attendance at NPB or your performance at club meets?

Bell: So while I was adjusting with new classes and my new schedule I did miss around 2 or 3 practices the first two weeks, but I’ve attended all of the meets so far and i think I’ve found a good balance between swim and school.

FSN: Overall are you enjoying high school? Do you miss your middle school, why?

Bell: Yes. I am enjoying high school. It is a great experience and I’ve met a lot of great people. I do miss some of my friends from my old school but we still hang out on the weekends.

By Cathleen Rabideau