All athletes come to the point in their careers when they have to make a decision to push ahead or to call it quits.
The better athletes become at their sport, the more time and effort is needed to continue to get stronger, faster and quicker. This ultimately leads them to question whether it is worth continuing.
The great athletes are the ones who see that barrier as a challenge and are motivated to break through it.
Virginia Tech senior swimmer Heather Savage knows all too well about the everyday challenges of trying to improve.
Savage has been on the Virginia Tech Hokies’ swim team for three years and has accumulated an astounding number of accolades and awards.
Savage has earned victories in almost every event, from the 500 meter freestyle, to the 100 meter backstroke. Last season, as a junior, her efforts in the 100 fly earned her All-American honors. She ended up swimming the 100 meter butterfly in the NCAA Championships, finishing 7th.
On top of her national achievements, Savage currently holds the ACC record in the 100 meter fly.
Although Savage has had great success during her swimming career, there were times when she had to make a decision whether it was time to let the sport go or look for another option and continue on the path to success.
Savage fell in love with the water at a young age but did not start swimming competitively until middle school.
“I learned how to swim when I was a baby," Savage said. "We live on a lake at home so I’m always in the water but I started swimming competitively in 7th grade.”
Although Savage started her competitive swimming career relatively late, she knew right away it was the something in which she wanted to invest her time.
“I love that swimming poses a new challenge every day, and it’s kind of like you have to get over that mental barrier every day when you get into the pool and you always have to be pushing yourself to be better," she said.
That attitude is why her coaches and teammates love her.
Virginia Tech’s Ned Skinner, currently in his 15th season as the Hokies head coach, has coached Savage for the past three seasons.
“Her work ethic is amazing," he said." She is probably the most disciplined female in the weight room that we have ever had at Virginia Tech. She is a fast runner, a great jumper, and just an incredible athlete on top of that. All of those things put together are why she is so good,” said Skinner.
Besides the challenges that come during every practice, there also came a time when Savage’s swimming career was almost cut short.