Bucknell Men's Swimming and Diving Blog - Eric Sokolosky
March 9, 2012
Swimming for Bucknell has meant so much to me these past four years, and I knew I wanted to take some time and reflect on this part of my life. Now that the idea of my career coming to a close has somewhat set in, I will try to summarize my thoughts in this final blog post.
I came into Bucknell as one of the last members of a very large, 11-person recruiting class. After having had a strong senior year of high school swimming, I was really looking forward to starting my career for a Division I program and the prospect of getting really fast. I would never have described myself as a sprinter before coming to college, but I soon found myself thrust into that role and enjoying it immensely. I was fortunate to have an incredible mentor in senior captain Mark Kawczenski; he taught me the ropes of sprinting and remains to this day one of my biggest influences.
I have been swimming the sprint events ever since. Although there is a monotonous aspect of being placed in the 50 and 100 freestyle every meet, I relished every chance I had to win. I admit becoming obsessed with performance; anything less than a victory was unacceptable. It took me a while to put my ego in check and realize that individual performances were only a small part of the team's objective. Many discussions with coaches Andrew Sheaff and Dan Schinnerer over the years have helped me refocus my energy towards the greater good.
While I have always done my fastest swimming in relays, they more importantly allowed me to help the team score valuable points. In college, I learned to channel the energy of the crowd and my cheering teammates when anchoring a relay. It is a position I was in countless times in my career, and they became moments of both clarity and intensity. I always had great confidence that I could touch the wall first, even when coming from behind. Although there were times I didn't prevail, I like to believe I gave confidence to my team upon diving in.
Relays, for me, are the most exciting and memorable experiences in swimming. It has been an absolute privilege to be on relays with some of the fastest swimmers in program history. In my freshman year, unprecedented performances from everyone involved allowed Bucknell to break school records in all five relays, and I was lucky enough to be on four of them. Last year at Patriots, lifetime best swims from Matt Segar, Christian Treat, Trevor Reitz and I allowed us to break the 400 Free Relay record. I believe that relay was the defining moment of my career.
This year at Patriots, Tom Brown, Matt Segar, Christian Treat and I teamed up to break the school record in the 800 Free Relay which had stood for three years. We were perhaps most excited to achieve this feat, as it had been our goal all season long. While my name now appears on all five relay records, I owe all of that success to my incredible teammates who made it all possible. I am going to miss being the closer, but I am going to miss the entire experience of swimming for Bucknell far more. Everything from team meetings, the sprint group, chatting with coaches, road trips, dual meets, our rivalries with Army and Navy, and even early-morning wakeups...the list goes on. My teammates have become some of my best friends in the world and the camaraderie is perhaps what I will miss most next year and beyond.
While I credit the entire team and coaching staff for my individual success, I simply would not be here without the undying support of my parents, Wayne and Ginger. They put forth so much effort to come watch every swim meet they possibly could. The idea of travelling for hours and spending so much time on the road and in hotel rooms to watch races that rarely lasted over a minute still boggles my mind, but they wouldn't have had it any other way. Mom and Dad have been with me every step of the way, and for that I owe them everything.
It has only been two weeks since my career came to a close, but I will never let myself stray too far from the sport of swimming. It has been how I've defined my life for more than 15 years, and will forever be a passion of mine. Although I am jealous of my teammates who have remaining years here at Bucknell, I look forward to supporting them from the sidelines. I am not sure when my return to the pool will be, but my guess would be sooner rather than later. The chlorine is calling me...
I'll always be a swimmer.