Akansha Vora: Just Keep Swimming!

Just Keep Swimming! - Akansha vora

I was 4 when my swimming classes started. Due to a history of asthma in the house, my mother wanted me to play sports to keep my lungs healthy. Initially, it was for fun and exercise, but later I enjoyed staying in the water. My coach observed my abilities. He said I could compete in the categories of six years and below.

I had immense team support of trainers, coaches and parents. I never thought about losing. I concentrated on planning, strategizing and touching the wall first. The further I came, the more adrenaline would kick in as I loved competition. I once called my dad for advice. He said to take ownership of my life and focus on my goals. You can’t blame anyone else.

This rewarding journey had its hurdles. I struck a balance at the age of 13. Losing was one part, but returning after the defeat was a greater struggle. Academics were my priority. If something unfortunate happened, it affected my performance. At times, I didn’t want to get out of bed, or I slept in class. Meeting my friends would refresh my mind. It was hard to return with confidence every day. I reminded myself of my goals daily. These experiences taught me and shaped me as an individual.

I wasn’t confident about the domain I wanted to pursue in conventional education. But I wanted to swim. Someone told me about Harvard and the Ivy League Universities. So I applied to various schools abroad. With no scholarship, I cleared the interview and got into Harvard at 16. I balanced my sports with academics. One of the most unforgettable moments was winning Nationals (Individual Championship) in India after the final exam. The other moment was the varsity in the Ivy League Championship.

I’m nervous about moving to New York for a new job. It’s the same excitement I felt before any competition. I’m grateful for the opportunities life has given me.

I’d say it’s never too late to start anything. Set goals, find a coach and anticipate the lows—balance extracurricular or athletics with academics. My mother once said, It’s not that you don’t have time. You choose to make time for something. You can focus on one goal. If you do something you love, it never feels like work.

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