TAMPA, Fla. – Swimming has been one of Megan Waddell’s most valuable learning tools, something she is thankful for.
The University of Tampa sophomore has had a successful season for the Spartans making Nationals in freestyle.
Waddell’s love for swimming came in her early teens, when she started to see positive results.
“I would say my passion for swimming first sparked when I was 13 years old because that was when I first made [State],” Waddell said, on the outdoor pool deck of the beautiful UT Aquatic Center. “I think that my love for swimming has grown over time because I have kept improving and I have kept finding things about the sport that have made me love it.”
Among her accomplishments this season, Waddell will be making her first appearance at the NCAA National Championships, running from March 14-17 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her best performances came in early January when she finished in first place in both the 50 Yard, and 500 Yard Free, with times of 24.45 and 5:20.31 respectively.
While admittedly not the fastest swimmer when she was new to the sport, the Psychology major is happy to have stayed with it. She credits her parents for getting her started.
“I initially started swimming because I was a terrible swimmer and my mom was afraid that I would drown,” said Waddell just prior to warm up. “They have never pushed me to do swimming, and they have never forced me.
“I have been swimming for 12 years now, so there has been time where I wanted to quit and there has been times when I have wanted to take a break, but my parents have always been there.
“They always tell me how much I love the sport and to find one thing that will help me get through the rough patch. I just think that the lessons they have taught me through swimming have really helped me grow as a person.”
This perseverance has translated to her academic studies.
“It’s really difficult to manage my time, and a lot of times you just see all of the regular students and you just want to be a student, but you have all the commitment of being an athlete on top of that,” Waddell said.
“I think that is really difficult just because it is really tempting to just live the life of a student. You just can’t do that because you have this commitment and you have to stick to it.”
The sophomore can see the end of her career approaching when she graduates from Tampa.
“I will hopefully find a different hobby,” Waddell said, holding back laughter. “I have been thinking about moving to Colorado and trying cross-country skiing just because I have the endurance foundation. I was watching the Winter Olympics and thought ‘That’s my sport.’”