Western Loudoun County is hardly known for its swimmers, but that hasn’t stopped sophomore Sean Conway from making waves.
Head and shoulders above the competition, literally and figuratively, the six-foot-four Conway qualified for States in every event last year, and he has already qualified in two events this year. But it wasn’t easy.
“The most challenging aspect of swimming is finding the motivation to push the extra mile and staying focused no matter how many times you flip, push off the wall, or take a stroke,” Conway said.
Dedication is crucial for year-round swimmers like Conway, who often spend more than twelve hours at the pool each week. The sheer amount of pool time necessary to excel at swimming makes it more than just a sport for many.
“For me, it’s definitely more of a lifestyle since I’ve given up everything else I could do in my free time,” Conway said.
However, in swimming, coaching is just as important as talent. In 2013, Conway began swimming for Nation’s Capital Swim Club (NCAP), a year-round team that produced 2016 Olympians Jack Conger, Andrew Gemmell, and Katie Ledecky.
“Under the right coaching, everything just took off. I got stronger, my technique improved, and I really began to feel the water,” Conway said.
Conway has only been swimming for five years, and he is already on a path to excellence. But swimming wasn’t always part of Conway’s game plan. Many swimmers start out in other sports but end up swimming later, due to its low entry-costs and low rate of injury.
“Originally I was going to play inline hockey, but I missed the start of the season because of an ear infection, so I tried out for summer swim instead,” Conway said.
Currently, Conway is balancing another round of State qualifications with swimming for his club team. Ultimately, however, Conway’s goals extend beyond even a college scholarship.
“Swimming is my main motivation – it drives me forward every day,” Conway said. “My long-term goal is to make the national team and from there to qualify at Olympic Trials.”