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Out swimmer Chris Cassingham finds transition to college swim team easy this freshman year

Chris Cassingham came out publicly in his Texas his school earlier this year. He's found nothing but acceptance on his college team at the Univ. of Mary Washington.

Chris Cassingham has found acceptance from his team at the Univ. of Mary Washington.
Chris Cassingham has found acceptance from his team at the Univ. of Mary Washington.

It seems strange to think that just six months ago I came out to everyone I knew, and to a lot of people I didn't know. I was so scared to come out but, just as many people will tell you, I don't regret doing it. Not in the slightest.

In the six months since I came out I have finished my first semester of college, and it has been the best experience of my life. I've met people who I already know will be my friends for life, and I have learned so much already about being an adult.

The best part about my college experience, however, has just been the acceptance. The University of Mary Washington is home to some of the most open-minded people I've ever met. They haven't been afraid, rather they've been eager, to accept me into their family. The same goes for my amazing team of swimmers. Spending hours upon hours together brings you very close very quickly, and I can honestly say that I wouldn't want to be spending these next four years with anybody else.

Just a week after Thanksgiving break, my team had its first opportunity to take just a little bit of rest, put on some fast suits and really see what we could do in the pool. Wow, did we do well! There were season-best times across the board, several lifetime bests (three of them mine), and we gave our competitors just a little taste of what is to come in February during conference championships.

The meet for me was probably the best of my entire swimming career. I dropped time to go personal bests in the 200-meter, 500 and 1650 freestyles - and I'm now ranked in the top-60 in the country for Division 3 in the latter. I cannot wait for what the rest of the season has to bring both in and out of the pool. Not bad for a freshman.

These next few weeks will be filled with some much-needed relaxation as well as some hard training back home with my club team before I head to Puerto Rico for a training trip with my college team.

My team's open and welcoming environment has made the transition from high school to college, from closeted to un-closeted, very easy. I no longer worry about what people think about me when I act a "certain way," and I certainly don't worry about acting like someone else, because I know the only person I have to please is myself.

You can follow Chris Cassingham on Twitter @CCassingham.