Dec. 10, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The IU Varsity Club recently sat down with Indiana swimmer Eric Ress about his college experience and how he chose IU.Q: Before committing, what did you find most attractive about IU?
A: I come from a small town in Connecticut. So, I felt the most comfortable being here. I wanted to go somewhere where I wasn't going to be too overwhelmed, but I also wanted a change in scenery. When I came here on my recruiting trip, I vividly remember the sense of "team." I know it sounds cliché, but it really felt like a family, I felt very comfortable here. IU was the best place to for me to swim fast and excel academically.
Q: Your father swam here from 1975-1979 (1976 Olympian). Did that impact your decision?
A: It's kind of a funny story. In movies, you see dads pushing their kids to go to their alma mater. My dad never pushed me in those regards. He told me, "I want you to go to the best school you can go to and go wherever you want to go." My mom's from LaPorte, IN, and I have older siblings from up north so I have connections with the state. When I came for my first visit, I knew that I wanted to come here.
Q: What was the biggest adjustment for you-- coming from high school to IU?
A: My biggest adjustment was not having my parents doing the everyday tasks that you tend to take for granted. Time that I normally would've spent studying or resting for practice was spent taking care of myself-- cooking meals, doing laundry, etc. Overall, I would say that I had a pretty easy transition. I came in with an attitude that I didn't want to be that freshman that took a year or two to come into my own. I wanted to make a statement right off the bat. I wanted to contribute points to the team and establish my name. It was tough the first couple of weeks, with the strict swim schedule, but I came into fruition.
Q: How would you describe the "Spirit of Indiana: 24 Sports, One Team?"
Q: As a scholarship athlete, how do you most benefit from the aid you receive from the Varsity Club?
A: It's really just the whole idea that all the athletes, the student body, and the alumni are all in it for you. IU is really well known for their basketball. Even though they typically are in the spotlight, Olympic sports get a lot of recognition and support as well. We had two bronze medalists in the Olympics. We had an NCAA champion on the track team. The list goes on and on. It's not so much just the people who are here; it's the alumni, too. I'm not on the IU swim team, I'm an IU athlete.
The scholarship I have enables me to do what I do. It allows me to focus both on my school and my training. Without it, I would probably work a part-time job on campus. I came in with partial athletic and partial academic [scholarship] and that was a good reminder to me that I have something to work for. I have to earn it. It serves as a motivator to earn my scholarship.
When I was a high school senior, my dad asked me what I wanted to do at Conference and NCAA's next year. I told him I wanted to get a top-eight finish at Conference. He looked straight at me and said, "If you're on scholarship, you need to be in three top-eight finals. You need to score as many points as you can. You need to earn that scholarship." It serves as a motivation. There are guys who are on the team who aren't on scholarship and are NCAA finalists. They're vying for individual national titles and they might not be on scholarships. They deserve it just as much as I do and it serves as constant reminder that I am an ambassador of the university as someone who represents IU both athletically and academically.
Q: If you had the opportunity to meet the donors who paid for your scholarship, what would you say to them?
A: I would want him or her to know that they made a lasting impression on me. Once I become an established professional, I hope to pay it forward and contribute towards a new generation of IU, athletes. If I could meet these people, I would definitely let them know that I plan on giving back just as they gave to me.
Read more about Eric Ress.