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article imageCatching up with Makayla Sargent: American swimmer Special

By Markos Papadatos     Sep 12, 2020 in Sports
American swimmer Makayla Sargent chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos about the postponement of the Olympic Games to 2021, and her latest endeavors.
"Being a part of the National Team for Team USA had been a goal of mine ever since I was a kid," she said. "When I first made the team last year and also qualified for my first international level meet I honestly had trouble falling asleep for a while because I just kept replaying that day in my head. I was reliving all the emotions, but it didn’t really sink in for probably a few weeks. As a part of this team, I have had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people and travel all over the world. Being able to do what I love with the people I love is all I could ever ask for."
She won the gold medal at the World University Games. "When I touched the wall and saw the No. 1 next to my name, an instant smile came to my face. What made it even better was the fact that my teammate had secured the silver for Team USA as well. Our event was on the first day of competition and we wanted to get Team USA off to the best possible start for the rest of the meet. Honestly just being able to wear the flag cap with my name on it was the biggest honor. The feeling is indescribable, but unforgettable," she said.
Sargent will be representing the Los Angeles Current in the second season of the International Swimming League (ISL) with Lenny Krayzelburg as the team's General Manager.
She opened up about life during quarantine. "The first few months of quarantine I had way too much time on my hands that I was not used to having. At first it was nice and I took on some new hobbies like sewing and journaling. I also took the opportunity to reconnect with my artistic side that I had been fading from since starting my collegiate career. I did not have access to a normal size pool for a few months so my training shifted towards a lot more dryland and on-land aerobic exercises," she said.
"I am so grateful to all of my coaches because they put so much time and effort into creating specific training programs to fit into whatever we had access to at the time. Once it was warm enough, I did some open water training which I absolutely loved! Now that I am building back into training full time, and classes for the fall semester began, I am definitely busy. I honestly prefer being busy though because I like having structure to my days," she added.
She shared the silver lining that she sees in this situation. "Obviously this year has not been ideal and has caused a lot of changes in everyone's plans, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is not clear at first," she said.
"My initial reaction to this situation was very emotional, but I was able to take a step back and find the silver lining in this challenging time period," she said. "I have had more free time than ever before and I took advantage of that by putting an emphasis on building and strengthening myself and my relationships with others. I truly think I have become a more emotionally intelligent person from this experience and from that, I believe I am setting myself up for even more success in my future, inside and outside of the pool."
Sargent opened up about the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021. "At first, the postponement came with a lot of stress as it significantly affected my plans for the following year. I had been accepted into a study abroad program in Florence, Italy for this fall and as soon as the news about the postponement was announced I knew I wasn’t going to be able to attend the program since I wanted to have the best resources to prepare for Olympic Trials next year," she said.
"As time has gone on though and I’ve continued to grow through this experience I have realized the postponement was in some ways a blessing because I was given a whole extra year of doing what I love. More time equals more opportunities for new experiences. I honestly haven’t thought much about what’s next for me once I am done swimming, so this extra time has allowed me more time to enjoy the sport and not have to stress about the future," she explained.
For athletes, she offered the following inspiring words during the pandemic: "To all the other athletes out there, it is ok to struggle and be overwhelmed during these unprecedented times. Nothing could have ever prepared us for this. The most important thing though is to remember that you are not alone, we are all going through this together and I am sure we will all come out stronger," she said.
"Take a step back every now and then just to realize how much you have to be thankful for in your life. Enjoy the company of others and take advantage of the opportunities you have been granted that may not have been there before. Most importantly, remember to smile and simply do what makes you happy," she added.
"One area of swimming I have been working on and would like to continue to improve is my consistency of performance in practice," she said. "Nobody is perfect and everyone is going to have bad days, but if I am able to minimize the gap between great practices than I think that will help me improve physically and mentally. It’s not as difficult to have one or two good practices a week, but being able to consistently show up to practice ready to impress myself is something I have been focusing on a lot lately."
When asked what commonalities she sees among champions, she said, "Every swimmer is unique in their own way, but there are a few things I have learned from fellow teammates and other swimmers that I have looked up to that really emphasize the champion mindset. Focusing on what is in your control is one of the most important things I have learned, especially during this quarantine. No matter how much you plan for the future, something unexpected is going to come up and you have to be able to stay composed and figure out how you are going to come out even better than before."
Sargent continued, "Another commonality i have observed is how much time, effort and love they put into not just their swimming, but also their teammates. They are just as engaged in their team's achievements as they are their own. Something that I myself can strongly relate to is hating to lose even more than Loving to win. Lastly, simply loving the sport and taking in all the experiences and opportunities that come with it."
American swimmer Makayla Sargent
American swimmer Makayla Sargent
Papa Razzi Sports Photography
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