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Overcoming Adversity A letter from hannah Gouger

Swimming Division I in college had always been part of my plan. When searching for the perfect university, I started by looking in all the wrong places. But by doing this, I fell in love with Richmond.

What originally pushed me away from Richmond in the beginning of my college search is what ultimately led me to call this school home...my sister. My older sister, Meredith, graduated from Richmond in 2015. As a stubborn teenager, I said I wanted to carve my own path. The last thing I wanted to do was go off to a new school and be “Meredith’s little sister”. With heavy convincing from my family and Matt Barany, the head Swim and Dive coach, that this journey would be mine, I decided to call Richmond my own.

Saying I was nervous for move-in day and to start my freshman year would be an understatement. I had never left home before and was terrified of saying goodbye to my mom. As move-in day got closer and closer, my anxiety became worse and worse. With many tears and nerves, my family got me settled into school and this new journey of mine began.

Except, I was never really settled in. In my first few months on campus freshman year, I was living in a world of anxiety, homesickness and depression. I missed my home and I missed my mom. I wanted to go home. I wasn’t unhappy with Richmond, but at the time, I couldn’t see that for myself. I went home many weekends in the fall of that year and even missed a swim meet due to my mental health. During this time, I experienced an outpour of love and support from my teammates, coaches and staff of the athletic department and university. The staff at CAPS taught me techniques and ways to manage my anxiety. I talked through my worries with my therapist and began to see a new side of myself that I had not seen in many years.

Knowing the number of people in the Richmond community who wanted to see me succeed and be happy made me realize that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

During this uncertain time, the pool was my place of comfort. Even though I was going through so much change in my life, I knew that swimming and my team were always going to be there for me. Training was my outlet. During practice, I could escape what was going on in my head and work to get better. My motivation continued to grow during my time at Richmond. My teammates and coaches knew that practice was a place of comfort for me, so they were always there to push me and help me improve.

I owe so much of my success to the Swim and Dive program. My teammates and coaches helped me to find my true self, which made me better in and out of the pool. I am so thankful that I chose Richmond to be my home over the past four years. I’ve gained knowledge, friendships, a new family and learned so much about myself. I am forever grateful for the time I’ve spent at Richmond.

Thank you to the generous donors of the Spider Club. Without your support and donations to the university, my experience at Richmond would have looked completely different. Richmond creates a special, unique experience for student-athletes that wouldn’t be possible without you!