Laurel Fink is a junior from Pottstown, PA. In addition to being a swimmer, Laurel is majoring in biology and minoring in psychology.
What made you start swimming?
When I was younger, I tried every sport: golf, hockey, dance; basically any sport you can think of. My friend said she was going to join the swim team, I decided to do it with her, and the rest is history. I had a natural feel for the water, so I just took it from there.
How important is discipline in your success as both an athlete and a student?
It plays a huge role. Sometimes, you’ve got to give up a lot. Sometimes, I have to say no to going out to dinner on a Monday night if I have an exam the next day, for example. I say no to a lot of stuff, but in the end I know it’s all worth it. I question it a lot: Is this really worth it? Am I going to remember this? You really do remember it though, because when you achieve what you set your mind to, you forget everything you gave up to get there.
How do you find balance in life as a student athlete?
That took me a long time to get used to. My freshman year, I was just juggling everything the entire time. There were times when I would fall behind in school or not get enough sleep. It really was a learning process to get to where I am now. [I had to learn to be] able to stop studying at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. so I could have 6-7 hours of sleep for morning practice. You just have to practice time management to become better at it.
What do you enjoy most about swimming?
Honestly, [I love] how silent it is when it’s just [me] in the water. It’s so incredible because it’s just [me] with [my] thoughts, and that’s my favorite part. I’m either motivating myself, or putting myself down, and it’s all depending on me. Obviously it’s a team sport and the team is motivating me as well, but I just love the silence and having to drive and push myself.
If you could travel back in time to your freshman year, what advice would you give your freshman self?
I’d tell myself to just go for it. I used to hold back, whether it was in the weight room, dry lands or practice. Sometimes, I’d hold back even in school. [I’d tell myself to] go full force at everything because it’s okay to fail, and in the end, it’s just going to make you a better person. I don’t know how many times my coaches have told us this: “when you’re in a race, you need to go for it early. Don’t hold anything back for the end because the last part of a race, and even a semester, it’s all heart.” We’re all tired, we’re all dead, but I just tell myself to go for it and not stress the little things, be more care-free and take more risks.
What are your other passions and hobbies besides swimming?
I coached swimming over the summer and I really enjoyed that because it brought my passion to other people, and if I can help find someone who loves the water as much as I do, that is awesome. I got to help them grow their love, and show them that swimming is fun; it can be empowering. Swimming is so much more than just swimming; it can help in life. Now, if I wasn’t a swimmer, I think I would want to become a makeup artist. I sit and watch videos all the time and do my friends’ makeup. No one would think I would be into it since I never wear makeup, but it’s like art for your face. I just love it.
Photo: NSU Athletics Department