Seahawk senior stays grounded
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 20:11
Many athletes dream of reaching an Olympic level of competition, and UNC Wilmington senior swimmer Anna Munger has achieved that goal—but don't think this success has gone to her head.
"I'm not going to make the team, but I was still happy to qualify," Munger said. "They only take the top three in every event, and so I think I'm around like 150th. But I'm not going to make it and that's perfectly fine with me; I'm still going to swim against some really good athletes. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it."
This modesty is characteristic of Munger, yet it does not detract from her love of the sport. A naturally competitive person, she said she struggled at first when she began swimming at the age of 10. "I hated it when I was 10," Munger admitted, laughing. "My parents pushed me into it. They both swam growing up, my brother swims…it's a family thing. I still remember being 12 and trying to make a district team for my YMCA club. It's really not difficult to make that meet—but I was just not a good swimmer."
She kept pushing herself, however, and as she entered high school she began to exhibit more and more proficiency in the sport. "There wasn't really a moment for me," she said. "It just was more of like an, ‘OK, this happened, let's just keep going with it and don't question it.' My senior year of high school at states, I got second in the 53, and that was the highest honor I had gotten at that point. It was just so exciting for me because it wasn't the last meet at the end of the season when I'm rested and ready to go."
During her freshman year at UNCW, Munger experienced a setback as an undiagnosed injury in her knee prevented her from achieving the success she wanted. "I wasn't finishing a single practice because I was in so much pain, so it was a struggle for me and I know it was a struggle for my teammates...here's this little scrawny freshman girl who's not finishing stuff, and she's not doing the whole practice," she recalled.
After undergoing knee surgery, she began to gain momentum. Finishing last year's season with a conference title from the CAA Championships and earning All-CAA honors, Munger has now proven her strength in the sport and her love for what she does.
"Swimming is a passion," she said. "I've had a lot of surgeries, Cortizone shots, lots of 5 a.m. practices. If you're just in this for fun, you're not going to be at a D1 level.
"This sport is ruthless," she added. Her usually easygoing demeanor gave way to an impassioned edge in her voice. "It is going to leave you completely exhausted and if you're going to half-ass it…then don't bother. This is a really competitive team. If you're taking the place of someone who's giving it their all, and you're not giving it you're all, then it's not fair."
Munger's dedication and drive to excel pays off in her sport, but, as always, she keeps it in check. As she prepares for the Olympic qualifications next summer, she reminds herself to keep her feet on the ground. "My ego comes out at 50 seconds max when I'm swimming. After that it goes away," she said. "I remember sitting in the car and refusing to go to practice, and I think that's a lot of what keeps me grounded. I know some swimmers who are really good and rub it in other people's faces…I hate being around those people, and purposefully am not that person. Just remembering where I come from reminds me who I am."