Collegiate Corner: University of Richmond

Nov. 19, 2013, 12 p.m. (ET)

Hi there, synchro world!

The word “pride” can have a wide range of meanings for different people. For me, “pride” represents the most important feeling I have gained from being involved in collegiate synchronized swimming at the University of Richmond for the last four years. Our good friend Merriam Webster believes pride has three components, each of which I gained from my collegiate synchro experience. This feeling of pride has given me a newfound confidence and sense of belonging that I had not experienced before college and has empowered me to take the risks and make the choices that have made me the person I am today; I have synchro to thank for that.

If you had asked me before college what I thought the word “pride” meant, I probably would have given you a funny look and answered somewhat flippantly about being “proud." If you asked me now, the answer would be far different and much more personal.

Part one of the Merriam-Webster definition says that pride is “a satisfied sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions.” Collegiate synchro pushed me to work and practice very hard—at hours that were not always convenient or on days when I thought the only thing I should be doing was studying for a difficult test. In spite of the balancing act, synchro drew me back to the pool every single time. It had this mysterious ability to make bad days better and help me to focus. Pushing through the tough times gave me the immense reward of successful meets, happy teammates, proud coaches, and more importantly, a sense of satisfaction about succeeding. More than that though, the personal choice to continue synchro was a choice in which I took pride every single day. Choosing to continue synchro was one of the best things I could have done for myself and there are few choices of which I am more proud to this day. Pride in this choice empowered me to make other choices and liberated me to be equally proud of those—and there is no substitute for developing the ability to trust one’s own instincts and make difficult choices. I can thank synchro for affording me that.

Part two of the definition states that “pride” is a feeling “toward a group of people.” I experienced this profoundly at UR. Synchronized swimmers wherever you go are a very respected group—people admire our dedication and how hard we work. My teammates, in addition, were inspiring and wonderful women—who aren’t afraid to pursue their passion and who succeed in so many of their endeavors. I admire these women so much and could not have been more lucky than to call them my teammates and some of my best friends. Nothing can compare to the sense of pride that I get when I tell people that I am on UR’s synchro team and am instantly associated with my teammates who, according to myself and others, are “incredible,” “someone I want to be” and “going to change the world one day.” I beam to hear others speak so highly of my teammates and am filled with pride in my team. More than that, when the alumni come back to our annual home meet and I see how happy and successful they are, as well as how much they love their team, I never cease to feel proud to be associated with such wonderful people; college teams are lifelong—as is the pride they give you.

Merriam-Webster also says that pride is the result of “praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging.” This, I can say with certainty is true of collegiate synchro. Nothing compares to the feeling of your age group coach telling you how much you have improved and how collegiate swimming has made you a better swimmer; nothing compares to swimming well and hearing your collegiate coach tell you she is proud of you or to hearing your friends say how great you did after seeing a synchro meet for the first time—you can’t help but be proud of yourself when everyone around you is proud of you. Synchro at the collegiate level also forces you to self-reflect—to learn about yourself and your tendencies in a way you never had before. This self-reflection helps you to realize your potential, both in synchro and in life, and this moment of clarity helps you to be proud of yourself and an all that of which you are capable of doing. Finally, collegiate synchro gives you a fulfilled sense of belonging. More than just your team, you are connected to an entire network of synchronized swimmers, all of whom form a greater synchro community. All of these components combine together to help a person develop a sense of “pride.”

This sport gives you a chance to feel like a part of something—whether it is small like a team, or huge like USA Synchro; and feeling like a part of something bigger than yourself gives you the ultimate opportunity for pride. Because you are an incredible person among hundreds of other incredible people. And there is no greater feeling of “pride” than that.

Synchro taught me what “pride” really is. It allows people to embrace themselves for who they truly are; it is being proud to put on your synchro t-shirt and walk around campus; it is inviting your friends to a meet just so they can see what our sport is all about; it is meeting alumni and becoming a proud alum. Pride is a feeling that becomes a way of life and there really is nothing better.

All the best,

Jenny Jarboe (University of Richmond, Class of 2013)