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Passion for the Pool

After 8-year break from school, Millersville swimmer returns to finish what she started

By Amanda Wetzler as told to Rachel Stark-Mason

The first time I came to Millersville, I was there for a year and a half. I decided to pursue a communications and theater degree because I had done a lot of commercials, and I thought theater would be the artistic way I wanted to go. I also swam for the team.

But then I got an audition in an LA film, acting and directing school, and I got accepted into their program. I really wanted to see a different part of the country, so I decided to move to Los Angeles on a whim and study acting and directing a bit further.

I was out there eight years. And the entire time, I was swimming on the side. I really stuck with swimming because it was something that kept me grounded and kept me true to myself. I also got into studying a lot on my own for strength and conditioning and how you strengthen your body for swimming, specifically. That passion grew a lot within me.

While I was in California, I got pregnant. During my pregnancy, I swam every day, sometimes doubles. I competed in the masters program while I was pregnant. I did the mile for maybe the third time in my life. And the entire time I could feel him kicking or feel him moving. There was something about being pregnant that really empowered me and really gave me more energy than normal. I think it was a lot of excitement.

My son was born in 2014. I had a water birth. He still loves the water today. He loves the sound of it. He loves being in it.

I failed a lot in California. Acting was really fun, and I had some mild success but not too much. In that industry, you audition four or five times a day without any hope of having a job, so I think that probably exacerbates the feeling of failure. But you learn a lot from it.

I had been experimenting with coaching. Since I still knew the coach at Millersville at the time, I wanted to follow that passion. So I contacted him and said I was thinking about coming back, and I’d really like to be a part of the team. I thought I could be of value and help with the strength side of things. He said yes, so we moved across the country.

Back at Millersville, I thought: I need to fulfill my degree because I still have credits I can apply. My acting and directing certification doesn’t apply in the world of coaching, so I’m never going to be able to get a job. I felt that I didn’t really reach my potential in swimming, and I still had eligibility. There was an itch — something I felt inside me that wanted to jump back in the water and join them. 

Last year, at 31, I jumped into the pool at a really competitive level for the first time in a long time, and I was able to achieve my fastest times that I’ve ever achieved. I feel like I can improve upon that a lot. I have some pretty intense goals for this season. I’d like to make NCAAs in one of my events.

I want to show my son that on any day, at any time, you can choose a path. And if you’re passionate about it and work really hard, you will be successful.

Amanda Wetzler is a junior on the Millersville swim team and a sports business major.

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.