Sink or Swim

How Emily manages to stay afloat

Emily laughs as she struggles to replicate a swimming stretch on dry land. “We normally stretch in the pool” she remarks of her swim routine at Bloomington South High School.

Emily Long seems pressed to remember exactly when she began swimming. Her eyes look up as if to search for a buried memory, quickly hesitating before revealing how long the sport has influenced her.  “I started [swimming] when I was six almost seven…and I decided that was just where I was going to go from there.”

Although very skilled in swimming, Emily is graciously humble, never boasting of an accomplishment. Her demeanor initially strikes as focused, almost reserved before becoming more light-hearted upon further conversation. When asked if she can connect what she has learned from swimming to any larger life lessons, she seems perplexed before landing on a clear answer. “Its a lot of time,” she remarks about the rigid schedules high school swimmers have to face. “Every day you get up at five in the morning before you go to school and then do it again afterward. You have to be really good at managing your time and staying organized.”

As much as being an athlete impacts her life, it is clear that swimming does not define Emily. While hoping to continue the sport in college, she reveals that she is fine with just participating recreationally as an adult. When asked if there are any famous athletes she idolizes, she responds with a humorously direct “No.” She is a swimmer on her own terms, with a much more intellectually focused goal in life; anthropology.

While she plans for a career more destined for academia than athletics, she still radiates with the benefits of sports. She plans to use the organization and time management from swimming to help her throughout college and future professions. “Swimming is something you can do your whole life,” she beams while giving advice to young athletes. “It’s really good for you and it’s a great way to meet new people.”

When confronted with an unexpected question of whether she would choose financial stability or a fulfilling career if they were mutually exclusive, she seems startled. “Uh,’ she laughs before clarifying the question. “I would say the financial stability until I could get the opportunity to have a fulfilling career. But that’s probably not the right answer,” she finishes, seemingly embarrassed at her unprepared response. However, her response shows a glimpse of a life that does not sacrifice passion for pursuing a practical career; she wants to have both. And that’s just what she plans to do.