Being a senior college athlete can be bitter-sweet. Sweet being at the very top of your athletic career, bitter because for so many that last college competition is their last competition.
That’s the case for Virginia Military Institute senior John Kim, who came out publicly as gay last autumn. He shared his mixed emotions on Instagram with a smile:
After 18 years, I finally yesterday marked my last collegiate and competitive race and meet. I’ve officially become a swammer. . Swimming has given me an incredible life experience, helped me make friends, and create memories I will never forget and most recently, let me be myself. . Being done with swimming competitively is bittersweet and it hasn’t hit me yet, but I will miss swimming, travel meets, and teammates #swammer . #retired #swimlife #imjohnkimandilikeswim #swimnomore
I caught up with Kim and shot off three questions as he closes out his competitive career and looks ahead to the future.
What’s your favorite memory of your swimming career?
America East Conferences this year, it was the pinnacle of my swimming, and to be in a conference where spreading respect, showing pride, and being inclusive with their athletes made me feel at home with this conference, the other swimmers, and my team.
They had their Spread Respect night on Saturday of that weekend, and at prelims I got interviewed with them, and it made me reflect on who I am, and how proud I am on finishing my swimming career and coming out as a gay athlete, and potentially being a role model for any future athlete.
The meet also just had great swims for myself. I got to be in the A final for both backstroke events, and I got to walk out and have that true experience of being a D1 Swimmer. Also I got to dance on the bulkhead during the breaks to Shania Twain in my speedo and wig, so that was memorable.
What’s been the best part of being out as a swimmer?
The best part of being out as a swimmer would have to be just being me. I play the music during practice, and I think everyday, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Katy Perry were played at least once, and I danced to every song. But I didn’t have to hide anymore from my team, didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t. I think that’s why I had such a great and fun season, because I was true to myself. My team has been really accepting, and it spread from my swim team to school. I think it let me become a better swimmer, captain and teammate.
Will you continue competitive swimming at the masters level?
I think I will, but not so soon. I didn’t realize how competitive of a person I am until recently, so to get back into a sport or event that allows me to race individually would be fun. I am sticking around in the swimming world though. I will be coaching again this summer, and I love being involved, giving back to the youth, and teaching them the fun things of swimming and sports in general.