By: Alexus Laird, BS’16
Last December I found myself on an unexpected adventure to Doha, Qatar. If anyone were to tell me six months prior that I would be swimming in the 2014 Short Course World Championships, I would have never believed them.
Starting my freshman year, my coach put this crazy idea in my head. I could swim for my mother’s home county, the Seychelles. For several years, I exchanged emails with the head of the Seychelles Swimming Association about a far-fetched dream to one day swim for the Seychelles. Finishing my junior year with no Seychelles passport and more than eight years since I last visited, I started to lose sight of my dream. Even if I could find my way there, would they allow me on the team and could I get my citizenship?
Coming up with $1,200 to fly to the Seychelles seemed impossible and the outcome wasn’t guaranteed. Hearing my aspirations, my great uncles put together money to send me there over the summer. Even if it didn’t work out I had the opportunity to visit my family.
After a flight from Indianapolis to Chicago, Chicago to Dubai, and Dubai to the Seychelles, I had finally arrived. Over 20 hours of flights is exhausting, and it makes it much harder for me to visit my family frequently.
During my first day there I obtained my citizenship information, and three days later I had my passport. This is amazing considering it takes over three months to obtain an American passport.
I spent three weeks in the Seychelles, swimming twice a day, and participating in an 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. swim camp. During my time at the camp, I not only had the opportunity to train with the national team, but with lower level swimmers. One day I lectured about goals setting and the impact NCAA Division I athletics has had on my life. Over this time, I grew to love the swimmers, and though most of them are very young, we can all connect through swimming.
After my three weeks in the Seychelles, it was hard to part with the swimmers because it would be more than a year before I would see most of them again. After some discussion with the Chairman of the Seychelles Association, they accepted me onto the Seychelles National Team based on my times and my training. Prior to my departure, I was given the chance to meet with the Minister of Sport of the country and discuss my involvement moving forward. I was then invited to participate in the 2014 World Short Course Championships.
Having the opportunity to represent the Seychelles internationally has given me a chance to travel the world, expense free, and expand my horizons. Throughout my endeavors, I will always reflect on the Kelley School of Business and IUPUI athletics for developing me into the person I am today and enabling me to pursue my dreams with an amazing amount of determination.