Sophomore swimmer Taylor Acheson was like most kids — she enjoyed swimming as merely a summer activity. But no matter what sport she tried, she always came back to swimming.
At first, it was non-competitive, until her family moved to Kansas.
It was her club coach Gardner Howland that ignited that competitive fire in Acheson when she arrived in Kansas.
Swimmers seem to have a way of looking at the sport that others don’t until they personally experience it. To Acheson, it's a release from the world and a reminder of all her past training.
“With swimming, your head is submerged, and it just blocks out everything else,” Acheson said. “For me, that is what makes it special. With me being more of an individual person, that makes it my sport. And with the help from my club and coaches, they really helped me dive deeper into that part of my swimming.”
One memory that sticks with Acheson about her time with the club was in 2016 during the 400-yard individual medley.
“Swimming that race next to my teammate was what made it my most memorable because we both are competitors,” Acheson said, “and we ended up both swimming best times because of it.”
Swimming for the club was what Acheson wanted, saying she “had no interest in swimming for the high school” because of all of the effort that she had put into the club. She also saw a better opportunity with the club to get further in her career.
“In high school swimming, that is where you can see the team atmosphere and find another level of fun with the sport,” Nebraska head coach Pablo Morales said. “But sometimes, and especially for the type of swimmer that Taylor is, sticking to club definitely was the right choice.”
The team atmosphere of high school swimming makes the sport special, Morales said, but it’s not for swimmers Morales terms as the “grinder” type, like Acheson.
With her club, Acheson was able to qualify for Junior Nationals, Futures and the National Club Swimming Association, and in 2016, she was part of a winning relay team at Summer Futures.
Because of her success, Acheson was recruited by Minnesota, Florida State and Nebraska. However, the Huskers had an edge the other schools didn’t.
“Both of my parents went here, and growing up seeing the school and the football games, you can’t compare the atmosphere here,” Acheson said. “Also, all of the resources that I found out Nebraska gives to their student-athletes is the other main reason I choose to come here.”
Acheson easily adjusted to collegiate swimming, having an impressive freshman year. She competed in three events at the Big Ten Championships: the 200-yard butterfly, the 200-yard IM and the 200-yard freestyle.
Acheson didn’t experience much difference in the way of training, she said, but the team atmosphere was something new to her.
“It brought me comfort because when adjusting, and maybe I didn’t swim well, my teammates would bring me up,” she said. “Then someone else would have a great race, so it would change the atmosphere to moving to the next race instead of thinking so much about the past.”
Finishing her sophomore season, Acheson has lots to reflect on and look forward to with two more seasons left with the Huskers.
“She is just a grinder,” Morales said. “She will put her head down and give it her all every time she goes out there, and that is something that we recruited her for. Nothing has changed.”