Four years ago, Tiera Forsyth joined the women's swimming team at the University of Tampa. Two Sunshine State Conference championships later and now a captain, she is riding high on her way out.
An all-American girl, Forsyth is from Bethel Park, Pa., where she grew up in a suburb near Pittsburgh. Despite her northern roots, she knew she wanted to go to college in the south.
She also knew she wanted to swim. Tiera gained interest in Tampa through the recommendation of a family friend. She explains, "I just talked to Ed, our coach, and he let me come down for a recruiting trip, and I just really liked it. When I came home I told my parents that that was where I was going to go."
Although her father envisioned Forsyth's college experience at a big state school, she insisted on having small class sizes, and with regard to swimming, she acknowledges that Division II was "a good fit."
For Forsyth, swimming has been a progressive and transformative experience. Happening upon it at age 8, she began swimming in accordance with her friends. At the start, she claims, "I was definitely not really good at it."
Testifying to the proverbial fruits that are produced as a result of the universally laborious nature of swim training, Tiera gradually developed as an athlete-steadily improving with the help of instrumental coaches. She really began to shape up as a committed swimmer in high school, where she admits that under strict coaches the program was "really intense" and she even cried at practices.
Citing that hardship, Forsyth notes that she "never loved [swimming] right off the bat." But she never quit and says she's glad she didn't. "I'd be a completely different person without it."
Swimming has kept her grounded and taught her the meaning of hard work. It's also given her excellent time management skills. She confesses to actually having a better handle on her school work when in season. "I want to put my kids in [swimming]. It makes you a better person."
Even at UT, Tiera continued to develop as a swimmer and embrace hardship, reflecting that her first year "was a struggle." Crediting the coaching team and her fellow swimmers, she improved herself and her abilities to eventually achieve becoming captain this, her senior year, which "made it all worth it."
As a senior and mathematical programming major, Forsyth looks to the near future with graduation quickly approaching. This summer she plans to have a final hoorah in Hilton Head Island, SC before hopefully acquiring a job in the field of computer programing. Until then, you can find her working at Cook's Kitchen, a "really cute British owned deli" at the corner of Bayshore and Gandy, which she highly recommends.
As for post-college swimming, Forsyth says she'll keep swimming to stay in shape; competing in the U.S. Masters Swimming could be an option but she is unsure about dedicating the time. What are for certain are her aspirations to have a family, be successful, make her parents proud, and maybe even travel Europe.
Preparations for the future often feel quite distant, but Tiera Forsyth has plenty else to celebrate right now. This past month, the women's swim team won its second SCC championship since transferring from the Bluegrass Mountain Conference three years ago. A number of qualifying swimmers on both the men's and women's teams will continue on in Nationals. But for Tierra, the spectacular victory at the SCC marks the climactic finish to a gratifying four years. Describing the fun of the event, Forsyth says, "It was good to go out on a high note. It was really close…which made it that much more rewarding in the end."
Leaving after such a fantastic achievement is bittersweet,
however. "It's sad that is over," she says. "It feels like a part
of me is gone." She'll miss her friends and teammates, not knowing
how many of them she'll see again, although she intends to keep
several life-long relationships. "But it's also like a huge weight
lifted off your shoulders. It makes you feel free," she adds.
Indeed, a certain freedom from school and particularly intense training and practices is something all accomplished collegiate swimmers can attest to.
Upon embracing this freedom, Forsyth reflects on her achievements and is proud of "completing everything" while "knowing [she] went above and beyond the average student." Four years of academic and athletic excellence while maintaining sanity is truly a remarkable feat. Now that those four years are nearly completed, Tiera Forsyth can finally say, "It feels really, really, good" to be graduating.
Written by Anya Proctor