Alec Barnard’s time at Seattle University is coming to an end rapidly. More so than he ever imagined.
“I never would have thought that it would go by this quick,” Barnard said. “It’s crazy to think that I’ll be done with school in (about three) weeks and done with swimming (this) week.”
The senior swimmer from Everett, Wash. found out at the beginning of the school year that his final year would be a quarter shorter than he thought.
Barnard was accepted into the Disney college program in September, and quickly went to work making sure he was set for the experience in Florida, which starts in April and runs through August.
“I’m able to finish up all my classes this quarter,” Barnard said. “I had to move some things around, but I’m able to graduate early and then hopefully I’ll come back for the actual graduation ceremony in June.”
He found out about the opportunity online, and since he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next after college, decided to apply.
Being accepted into the program is no small feat.
Barnard said he heard that out of the 40,000 people who apply to the Florida college program, only 4,000 will end up working there. And he’s one of them.
The program takes college students, houses them, and puts them to work in theme parks and resorts. To Barnard, that sounded like a fun experience away from Seattle where he could pick up new skills.
“They’re placing me in quick service food and beverage, so I’ll work in some sort of role in a restaurant,” Barnard said.
He added, with a laugh, “That’ll be interesting because I told them I don’t have any food experience.”
Barnard is no stranger to tackling new things head on. He thrives off challenges.
After starting summer league and then transitioning into club swimming 12 years ago, Barnard knew by his senior year at Archbishop Murphy High School that he wanted to continue swimming and compete in college.
He looked at colleges around the country, but ended up close to home.
The focus on athletics and academics is what solidified his decision.
“We talk about how important academics are all the time here, so that was a big thing,” Barnard said. “I knew I was going to get a good education, and then I’d also have the experience of being a Division I athlete and competing at that level.”
Competing at the DI level in the Seattle U swim program has helped Barnard grow.
The team dynamic of depending on each other to perform so they can win events, and therefore win meets, has been key in shaping Barnard.
“It’s made me a really hard worker just because I’ve seen what it takes to get results at swim meets,” Barnard said. “That transfers over to everything else academically and professionally.”
His work ethic is one of the reasons his teammates voted him to be a team captain this year, his first year with the title.
“It’s cool my teammates recognize me as someone they thought would be a good leader for them,” Barnard said. “I’ve enjoyed being a leader and pushing everyone to do their best in practice and meets.”
Barnard has chosen to lead by example, but he did add that leading this group isn’t difficult.
“We have a really good group of guys on the team,” Barnard said.
In his four years at Seattle U, Barnard has seen a transformation in the swim program. It’s been a “huge,” positive transformation, and it’s one that he’s proud to have been a part of.
“It’s a completely different team,” Barnard said. “There was always a really strong team atmosphere, but I think that’s grown even more, and our performance at meets has increased dramatically. The sets we’re doing are so much harder than what we were doing when I came in as a freshman, so that’s been really cool.”
Barnard thinks this trend will only continue upwards, and he’s confident in the hands he’s leaving the program in. Especially with the strong group of freshmen brought in this year, he has no doubt that success in the program will continue.
Team spirit, work ethic and dual meet performances were all part of that transformation. They are how Barnard wants to be remembered after he graduates.
“I want to be remembered as someone who was part of that transition from the team that I came into as a freshman to where the team is now and where it will continue to go,” Barnard said.