Mental health is something that all people have to deal with, and sometimes a break is needed to work on it.
Senior swimmer Kyle Shadeck took a leave of absence last season due to his mental health. “Unfortunately I went through a lot of bad mental hardships; some of it was personal stuff, some of it was from athletics, some of it was from academics,” Shadeck said. More and more is being learned about mental health and how crucial it is to take care of. “I just wasn’t taking care of myself properly in my head. It really caught up to me and I was in a dark spot, and I felt that in order to get myself out of that hole I was in I needed to step back and take a break and take care of myself,” Shadeck said.
Leaving the team affects multiple things, especially other members of the team. Senior and captain Zachary Collins said, “It was not easy, obviously losing anyone on the team is not an easy thing to do, although Kyle had his reasons and I fully support why he had to take some time off.”
Another person majorly affected by this decision was the Head Coach of the swim team, Christopher Woolridge. When asked if he was surprised when Shadeck left Woolridge said, “I don’t think I was surprised, but that’s mainly because you don’t have to do this job for very long to have a lot of different things happen over the course of a season.”
Now that Shadeck has returned to the team, Collins said he is excited to have him back. “I’m very excited. I’ve been living with him for a year and a half now, he’s a great teammate, he is a fantastic swimmer, [he has] broken records already,” said Collins.
With Shadeck leaving to work on his mental health, the question for him now is did his break help him and his health? Shadeck said that he does feel better now. “Taking that break allowed me to get well, get happy and fall in love with the sport again because for awhile I wasn’t enjoying it anymore; but after having a break and taking some time to reflect I got an appreciation for the sport again,” he explained.
Now that Shadeck is back and mentally healthy, it is time to focus on the team and swimming. “He’s come back and he has had such a positive attitude; he’s always been there, he’s always early for practice, stretching out getting ready, he’s always positive during practice looking at the upside of things,” Collins said. Even Woolridge has noticed the difference in Shadeck this year. “Kyle seems happy, he’s in good spirits. I think he’s happy. I think he wants to have a good final year and go out on a high note,” Woolridge said.
Shadeck said he is happy to be back as well. “It seems like everyone is glad to have me back and I’m glad to be back. It’s nice to train alongside with people and just share some laughs and jokes in between practices, so it’s great to be back in a team environment,” Shadeck said.
Austin Smith can be contacted