When I was 6 years old, I got out of my first swim practice and told my mom that I was going to go to the Olympics someday. I have always known that I was destined to be an Olympic swimmer, however, I have always known even more so that I was destined to be a wife and mother.
However, my path to Jake was not easy. Neither was his.
I always thought that as soon as I retired from swimming, I would be able to jump immediately into marriage and starting a family. I never imagined that dating and relationships would be more challenging than swimming 62 miles per week. I believed that I could put the same hard work and dedication into finding a spouse that I did into swimming, but boy was I wrong. I learned over time that you can't work hard and force a relationship. Love isn't as simple as swimming.
I have spent a lot of my life isolated as a swimmer with my face always in the water. The isolation didn't end when I stopped swimming. I had a lot of lonely days and nights. I also experienced a lot of heartbreak and frustration in dating and relationships when things didn't work out. I have been cheated on, rejected, and had my heart broken many times.
In 2015, I got serious about prayer. I saw the movie "War Room" which is all about the power of prayer. I cleared out a closet in my house to designate as my "war room". I wrote down exactly the qualities in a man that I was looking for and I wrote down a prayer for God to prepare my heart and send him to me. I would go into my "war room" every day and pray.
It was at this point that God started by sending me to Deer Creek Camp (my Christian Swim Camp) which was the first step to me learning about what love really meant and the importance of keeping God first. I could feel God shaping me and helping me grow so that when my soul-mate came along, I would be ready for him. I went to Deer Creek Camp every year and each time I felt as though my heart opened a little bit more and I began to run faster and faster in the direction of God.
My biggest fear that I was going to miss my chance to have children. I knew that I had to put my faith in God, but I also had to keep searching. I downloaded the dating apps (all of them) and began swiping. For the next two and a half years, I would go on at least one, if not more, dates per week. I would go out most people just once, I would very rarely like someone enough to schedule a second date.
In November of 2017, I flew to D.C, to attend my friend Jamie Fischer's wedding. She had been my single friend and we would share our dating horror stories together. We had always bonded over being single and wishing we could get married. I was incredibly happy for her, but sad that I was losing my single buddy. At that point, I had been on a string of really bad dates with some disrespectful and mean men and I was feeling very down on myself.
When I arrived in D.C., the day before the wedding, I decided to have a "Treat Yo Self" day where I went to the mall and I got a pedicure, got my hair done, and bought myself a new outfit. At the wedding I felt a new confidence and when I came home, I had a new match on the dating app "Hinge". A handsome young man named Jake.
There are an infinite number of examples in both Jake's past and mine, that demonstrate how God was leading us together. He was shaping us and preparing us to be ready to enter into the kind of love that neither of us knew was even possible.
The message that I would like to give to all single young women out there who want to get married and are losing hope would be to pray and have faith that God is putting pieces together. Just like in swimming, everybody has to go through the pain of defeat before you are ready to truly appreciate the victories. All you have to do is "just keep swimming".