Although it is recognized around the world as a sport completed in water, the differences are not as identifiable between nations.
But for senior Artur Schneider, who calls Switzerland his permanent “home,” the sport is much different in the United States.
Schnieder calls his start in swimming a “funny” story. At eight-years-old, Schneider played hockey for three years with his older brother.
“I enjoyed it,” Schnieder said. “When we were 11, I mean our team was just not good and we lost every game. I was kind of mad, and I told my mom that I was mad that we lost all the time. I couldn’t really do anything because the whole team was not good.”
After voicing his concerns to his mom, Schnieder’s mom suggested to her son to try an individual-based sport, such as track or gymnastics, but Schnieder “tried everything” and never found a passion for those sports—until swimming came along.
“We had this swim meet going on in my school, and I don’t remember what the prize was, but it was a pretty big deal if you win for little kids, you know?” Schnieder said. “But because we had a pool at home, I remembered ‘Hey, I’m pretty fast at swimming.’”
After coming to that realization, 11-year-old Schnieder told his mom he wanted to become a swimmer. His mom asked why he wanted to swim all of a sudden.
Because he wanted to win the meet at his school.
Schnieder went to his local swim club and they said he could join their program “right away” to test out the waters—only to see if swimming was what he wanted to do.
And since that day, Schnieder has never left the water.
Throughout Schnieder’s journey of swimming, he has made multiple discoveries and continues to learn more about himself.
“Swimming is so mental,” Schnieder said. “It’s probably the one sport where it doesn’t matter where it is, against who it is—every pool is the same, pretty much. It’s all mental. I can do it all day in practice, but if I can’t do it in a meet, then it does not count. I learned a lot about the mental side of myself.”
At first, the self-motivation was hard for Schnieder to find because his first competitions were not the best, simply because he would stress or panic before a meet.
“But then I started figuring out that no matter what I think, it’s always going to be the same,” Schnieder said. “The same race. The same length. The time is always brutal, but you just have to start dealing with that, and now I enjoy that side of it because I know I can control it. Whereas when I started, that freaked me out.”
After more than 10 years of experience in the pool, Schnieder knew he wanted to continue swimming when he went off to college.
Schnieder received offers from across country from several divisions, offering him a position in their programs. At this point, all he knew was that he “wanted to go with his gut feeling” and Franklin College’s Andrew Hendricks, the head swimming and diving coach, sparked a personal connection with Schnieder—the ultimate deciding factor.
“I liked Coach Hendricks’ philosophy the best from all of the coaches that had contacted me,” Schnieder said. “He just wanted to build a swimming power house and a national competitive team. He gave me a lot of responsibilities and he made me a big part of that project, and I really really appreciated that.”
His first season as a Grizzly definitely challenged Schnieder, from adjusting to the coaching style to the international differences.
“It’s a whole different life over here and a whole different sport almost,” Schnieder said, “because we train differently in Switzerland, we have different competitions, we don’t train as hard, our competitions are longer and more individual-based than college versus college.”
Now, as a senior preparing to graduate with a degree in biology, Schnieder is prepared to see the team grow.
“We’ve come from a team that had a lot of good swimmers to an excellent team,” Schnieder said. “That’s really amazing to see, and I think the senior class right now is a big reason for that and, of course, coach and his recruiting style.”
Schnieder also credits the support from fans who come out and cheer on the program.
“In Switzerland, we never really had a crowd like that, and here, everyone is cheering you on and sometimes dresses up. It’s just amazing,” Schnieder said. “It makes so much more fun. It makes you feel like you’re not just swimming for yourself or your team, but you’re swimming for the whole Franklin College [community] and your parents. It just makes it so much more valuable.”