Student juggles life, sports

By John Malich U-wire

Wearing the same underwear for every competition, stretching in a certain order or eating pasta for breakfast – athletes tend to fall into rituals when it comes to performance and competition.

“Before I get on the blocks, I say a prayer and thank God for the opportunities he has given me with his blessings,” said Toledo swimmer Amanda Wittenmyer of her routine before diving into the pool.

Wittenmyer, a senior majoring in clinical exercise science and co-captain of the women’s swimming and diving team, then exudes another strength – her physical strength that is the result of hundreds of hours in the weight room and the pool since her freshman year at the University of Toledo.

A typical Monday has Wittenmyer waking up at 5:20 a.m. and lifting weights for an hour and 25 minutes. Then she moves to the pool until 7:30 a.m. – her first practice of the day, she said.

She returns home to eat breakfast, spends time in faith devotion and takes a nap until she has to be at her first morning class at 10 – this semester she’s taking 15 credit hours.

Classes last until 2 p.m., when it’s time to return to the Student Recreation Center for a second practice and rehab for her ankle, which she broke eight weeks ago during a wakeboarding accident.

Dashing home, Wittenmyer eats and studies as much as she can until 8:45 p.m., when the Christian athlete group Athletes in Action meets until 10 p.m.

After 17 hours, Wittenmyer can stumble into bed before waking up and starting a similar process the next morning.

“I have had to manage my time since high school,” Wittenmyer said, adding that time constraints are something all student athletes are familiar with.

Her hours of training pay off when Wittenmyer hits the water, however, and she said her best event is the 50-yard freestyle.

“Swimming is a total body workout, and for the sprints that I do having an equally strong upper body as a lower body to kick is very important,” she said, her statement validated by strong arms and shoulders.

Besides swimming and classes, Wittenmyer finds time to participate in other activities, such as Athletes in Action and Campus Crusade for Christ.

Here, she is a representative for the Student Academic Advisors Committee to the athletic department.

Student athletes have concerns other than cramming socializing and sleep into their busy schedules if they want to continue playing their sport: Their academic eligibility.

Brian Lutz, assistant athletic director for compliance at UT, detailed specific requirements student athletes must meet to remain active.

“Grade point average must be 1.8 for each of their first two semesters and 2.0 for each semester thereafter,” Lutz said.

By his or her third year, a student athlete must declare a major and have 40 percent of his or her credits completed.

He or she must then complete 60 percent of their major by their fourth year and 80 percent by their fifth year, Lutz said.

After she graduates in May, Wittenmyer’s positive actions will have the opportunity to present themselves again.

“I want to give back to the sport that has given me so much, whether it is coaching or any other way I can make a difference,” she said.