Hi everyone! I’m Hilary Roberts
, a graduating senior 200 flyer/400IMer on the team.
Just about a week ago, HWSD had the senior banquet at the Harvard Club in Boston where a season recap was given, awards were given out, and all the seniors gave their senior speeches. I of course put it off to the last minute. How could I put what I felt about this team into words? My entire swimming college experience compressed into a span of 4 minutes? What did I even want to say?
I ended up sitting down at breakfast the morning of, and writing my speech out in a notebook. It started with a, “As most of you know, I’m not the best public speaker…” and ended with all my thank yous. I’m not sure if I said everything I wanted to say though, as talking of my experiences got me carried away on tangents. So here is my speech, rewritten, and hopefully an adequate expression of my love for HWSD:
This team means so much to me. Coming from high school, you don’t really get a sense of team. At swim meets you don’t have that sense of family, like you want to do something so bad. Not because you want it, but because others need you to. The team needs you to. I remember when this realization came to me (of course only 3 and a half years into college swimming …). It was during the first couple of events at our meet at Northwestern versus Iowa and Northwestern. I remember thinking, my team needs me, I need to do something, I have to do something. I had never put that into a concrete thought before. Earlier in the season, we raced Columbia in what ended up being the most intense duel meet I have ever raced in. I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach, heart racing even though I was sitting down, and sweaty palms. At that meet, we 200 flyers needed to go 1, 2, 3 in order to bring us back into the lead. And we did.
What I’m trying to say is, I can’t imagine I will find this feeling elsewhere. All of us train every day in a sensory deprived world where the only thing your performance depends upon is you. Your attitude, your technique, the effort you put in mentally and physically. If swimming is such an individual sport, how can we just know that when someone steps up behind the blocks, they’re going to give it their all. And, even more importantly, they will do it because they can. All of us train every day with each other. We are a constant reminder to ourselves that we do need to go that extra mile, put in more than we thought possible, so that we can be someone that the team can depend on. It was said at Ivies this year by someone that [she] could look at everyone in the room, and be so confident that that person would step it up and do what was needed to be done in order to win. Not just because of their mental toughness, or fierce determination, but because she had been training with all of us, every day for the past season, and knew that we had put in the training needed to be capable of holding that rope.
Freshman year when my shoulder injuries took me out of the water, there was no doubt of me returning. How could I not return? (Part of it was my well known slight insanity when it comes to training and liking to do too much.) But an even more so reason was that every day on deck I would watch everyone practicing, pushing each other. How could I not want to be a part of that atmosphere? How could I not want to contribute to that attitude, to an environment where the concept of backing down from a challenge didn’t exist?
On this team, if someone needs help, whether it be in finding the right outfit, or writing a french paper, another is there. Not to sound too corny, but if something is wrong, we’re there for each other. I haven’t found anywhere else where there is an entire team of people that give me a sense of family, support and friendship. You all have something special, something to treasure. Know that, and take advantage of it every day. Time in college flies by, and before you know it, you’ll be going off to be a real world person.
So when I graduate from Harvard, things will never be the same. I won’t just be leaving my college life, I’ll be leaving this team. This team has taught me so much about how a group of people can be much more than the individual sum of everyone’s talents and abilities. Being on this team has been an incredible life changing experience, and I couldn’t imagine college without it. When I think of all of you, I can’t find one person who hasn’t inspired me to work harder, or to be more than I thought I could ever be. I will miss every one of you. Thank you all for giving me one of the greatest experiences I will ever have.
You all rock.
Seniors at the Banquet!