Sarah Bethel switches her perspective for senior year


Andrea Stephenson

Sarah Bethel in a scenic area, smiling for her senior photos.

With senior Sarah Bethel’s strong commitments and novel aspirations for her last year of high school, she knew well before something in her schedule had to give, having to juggle a social life and swim practice. 

Sarah was never able to experience exciting aspects of high school to her for the past three years, due to the profound effects of school swim, but she’s since exchanged her senior season for the ideal senior year. 

“It was exhausting by the end of every day,” Sarah said. “I just wanted to sleep, but I knew by the time I went to sleep, I would just have to wake up and [practice] again.” 

Swim, for Sarah, left her with major time commitments in the past, and with college applications and her entire senior year ahead, it would be too much to handle. This time is paramount for her, and facing the fatigue, too, would be extremely difficult and become extra stressful. 

Though sometimes reminiscing on the glorious parts of being on the team, Sarah realizes how beneficial this shift has been for her, now having the time flexibility and freedom to enjoy fully enjoy her vision of senior year. 

“There are definitely times when I see my really good friends that are on the team, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I really miss that,’” Sarah started, “and especially when they have meets. I’m sure senior night will be difficult, but I think it’s such a relief. It feels like a weight was lifted off my shoulders because I stopped enjoying it, which is something that I think was really hard for me to realize. It’s one of those things where you have to weigh the bad and the good, and I feel there was more good that came out of this, despite the sad thoughts.”

Because Sarah doesn’t swim all year long and only for FHC, she never envisioned herself swimming past high school or into college. In fact, she has other plans for what she’s continuing with, and swimming didn’t seem to align with her future the way she predicted. 

… I would say that when I was a freshman, I probably thought I would’ve done it all four years, but I think it was easy for me to predict the future before I was actually in the future.

— Sarah Bethel

“I was never really all that great at swimming, which I always put a hundred percent of my effort into it,” Sarah said. “It’s not something that I focus on [all the time], but I more so did it for the team, and I did enjoy like the act of swimming. It wasn’t something that I ever really saw myself continuing, and I would say that when I was a freshman, I probably thought I would’ve done it all four years, but I think it was easy for me to predict the future before I was actually in the future.” 

Swim practices and their cons were their own struggle, but no matter what, Sarah enjoyed how physically demanding the sport was during each weightlifting session. It pushed her to see improvement in her swim meet times and closer to her teammates, but nonetheless, it was a feeling of accomplishment and success that drove Sarah.

Her determination never dwindled, but shifted more towards her social life, like visiting Sommerset Mall in Detroit with friends or touring colleges; something Sarah enjoys, but wouldn’t have been able to manage if she had continued swimming this year.

“One of the things that we were able to do before school started, that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do during swim,” Sarah said, “is being able to hang out after school and go to the football game, and then hang out after [without] having to worry about waking up for morning practice the next day. Being able to say ‘yes’ to things instead of ‘no’ when hanging out [with friends] has been something that I’ve really noticed.”

To Sarah, it’s interesting to be around a familiar crowd often this fall, but she still stands by her momentous decision to trade swim for the sake of her senior year. 

“I would say that it’s a weird feeling,” Sarah said, “but also because swim season is definitely a lot different, where I’m used to the fall being crazy busy, having swim. Now, it is busy, but just in a different way, so that’s definitely an adjustment.”