Every year high school seniors who plan to continue education after high school are faced with a daunting process: college application season. While seniors are busy searching and applying to schools that have the potential to be the right fit for them, many schools are also busy scouting out students – more specifically, outstanding student athletes. When the phrase “student athlete” came to my mind, right away I thought of Janelle Rudolph. So I reached out to her earlier last fall to ask her for an interview and her being the kind person that she is, she said yes!
Janelle is a freshman at Stanford University swimming for the Stanford Women’s Swimming and Diving team. She started swimming initially when she was six for water safety and physical activity but Janelle says, “over the years I’ve really found a deep love for the sport and all the life lessons it’s taught me.”
Janelle was unsure whether she wanted to swim collegiately or not for a long time. But, in the end, she decided that swimming has played such an important part in her for so long that she couldn’t just let it go so easily. “I believe that continuing to swim and to push myself to see how far I could go would help better me as a person in an invaluable way, and that the college swim experience itself would be something I would remember long after retiring.”
When asked about her experience with being recruited by Stanford/colleges, she tells us, “It was definitely a confusing and stressful process overall, but once I visited Stanford and met the team, it really felt like home to me.” She could picture herself spending the next four years of her life there. For those who hope to recruit with a college as an athlete, Janelle shares, “ My biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid to reach out to schools if you’re really interested! Putting yourself out there doesn’t hurt, and it can only help.”
Inevitably, her college swim season looks a little different than regular seasons due to COVID restrictions. However, she mentions how she appreciates being able to still train with her college team while still exercising social distancing. “While training with the team, we swim 1 household to a lane, and we put on masks immediately when we are on the pool deck. We also make sure to remain 6 feet apart, and to avoid gatherings” Janelle tells us.
Aside from sports, student athletes also have school to think about. But, being a student athlete is nothing new to Janelle. So we asked her how she balances school and sports and what it is like to be a student athlete on a collegiate level. Janelle responds, “I am definitely still trying to learn how to balance school and sports! I believe it will always be a challenge, but it has definitely taught me how to manage my time efficiently and how to prioritize. A key part for me has been to ensure I get enough sleep so I can be as productive and efficient as I can with schoolwork to make things a bit easier on me.”
With COVID putting big landmarks (i.e competition events) on hold and limiting/completely taking away the time spent training with teammates, the already hard task of keeping in shape and maintaining motivation as a student athlete becomes much harder. So, we asked Janelle what she has been doing to tackle these tasks.
To start off, she has been staying on top of her dryland workouts and making the most out of her time in the pool when she has the opportunity to practice in it. In addition, she started doing yoga over quarantine and says that has definitely helped her maintain flexibility. To help her maintain motivation, she reminds herself of why she swims and her goals. Lastly Janelle shares, “Keep in touch with your teammates and friends! They understand how hard it is right now, and it’s great to be able to lean on each other for support.”
Looking into the future with Janelle, we asked her if she thinks life will ever go back to normal after this pandemic. She replies, “I’m sure that the pandemic will have really fundamentally changed things for both my life and the world. It’s hard to say how “back to normal” things will be.” Although many things are still in question, Janelle shares with us that she is excited and grateful to have qualified to compete at the 2020 Olympic trials that has been postponed to this year! Janelle, we are rooting for you!!