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2L uses lessons learned in the pool to succeed in law school

January 24, 2017 | Students

Sometimes students may feel like acclimating to law school life could almost be an Olympic event. From adjusting to the Socratic method of teaching to spending long hours in the library preparing for exams to striking a balance between work, classes, and a social life, it takes focus and dedication to find a workable rhythm.

For 2L Abby Chin, however, she credits her extensive training in in the pool in the years leading up to competing in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, for giving her the tools necessary to succeed from the start.

“I think the thing with athletics in college, especially in Division I, is that you’re on such a strict schedule all the time—I was waking up early mornings to go to practice from 6-8 a.m. and then I went to class from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then I was back in the water from 2-4 p.m., and I was working part-time coaching a couple of hours a night—and I think that schedule really prepared me for law school because it’s all about being efficient, but still having a quality of work at the same time,” she said. “Swimming has really helped me learn to be efficient in the work that I do and that when I work hard at it, there’s bound to be a good outcome.”

Chin started swimming as a child at the age of five following in the footsteps of her older sister. She and her twin brother joined a local club team in their hometown of Upper Arlington. As she grew older, Chin joined her high school team and then ultimately chose to swim in college at the University of Louisville.

Long hours, intense training sessions, and the stress of competition can take its toll on some athletes. Chin said there was only one time in her entire swimming career, however, that she ever thought about quitting. When asked what kept her in the game as long as she has been, she answered with just one word—love.

“I think it’s just love, love of the sport, love of the water. Swimming has given me so much throughout my life and I don’t think I would be as successful in school, whether it was college or law school now, without swimming. It’s given me a lot of tools outside of just athletics, so I’m really grateful for that. People that really love swimming are kind of obsessed with it, and I’m one of those people,” she said with a smile.

Chin first competed in the Olympic trials in 2008 and went on to compete again in 2012. When she finished college, she thought she was done with her swimming career. It wasn’t until near the end of her first semester in law school that she felt the pull to get back in the pool.

“I took a long time off because I wasn’t planning on going again, but around November, December into the first year of law school I was working for my old club coach and I kind of looked at him and we talked about it, and I told him, ‘I think I want to do this.’ And I think a big part of it was just being able to finish one last time and to do something for swimming for myself, which I hadn’t done for a while being so focused on the team aspect of it,” she explained.

So, she started training again. Her schedule was much lighter than her undergraduate days at the start, but she began ramping up as the trials drew near. Chin says she was spending somewhere between 10-15 hours a week training before leaving to compete in the 400 Individual Medley at the June event.

The 2L said she felt she did well at the trials, giving a respectable performance she could be proud of.

“To be honest, my goal was to be respectable, I didn’t want to go to a huge national meet and be last, and be last by a lot, so just to be able to compete with other people there was great. I had actually told my coach the time I was going to go, I said, ‘I’m going to go in and I’m going to go this time, and as long as I go that time it’ll be fine.’ And I actually went exactly the time I told him. It was a good swim and it was also just a lot of fun to be out there. My whole family came out, my boyfriend came out, and it was just a really good time.”

While she said she believes swimming will always be a part of her life in some way or another, she is excited to focus on law school and her future career. Chin said while she’s not sure exactly what area of law she plans to pursue after graduation just yet, after spending a summer interning at Porter Wright she knows she enjoys firm work and would like to pursue a career in that arena.

“I coached some through my first year and will continue doing so a couple days a week. I love to help coach younger kids, swimming is something that’s given me a lot and taught me a lot and if I can help younger athletes learn those tools as well it’s worth it to me,” she said. “As for my personal swimming and training, I’ve been taking some time off, but I think it’s something I might eventually get back into and swim a little more leisurely, but for now it’s nice to try other things.”

As she enters her 2L year Chin plans to serve on the Ohio State Journal for Dispute Resolution and as the executive justice of lawyering skills on the Moot Court Governing Board. She also served as co-counsel for the 1L orientation this summer. Chin said one of the things she’s enjoyed most about law school thus far is getting to know her classmates.

“I always tell people you watch in the movies and you see this image of what college is like and it’s intelligent people having these conversations, but having fun at the same time. I don’t think you quite get that in undergrad, but here you have people with big ideas and big plans for life, and for me, it’s refreshing to see that and just the culture and environment at Moritz is something that I enjoy,” she said.

For any other students thinking about taking on extracurricular activities during law school, the swimmer had this piece of advice; “If you decide you’re going to do it, you have to be prepared for it and know mentally it’s going to be tough. It’s long hours sometimes and that’s hard, but being on a schedule and being prepared to stick to that, if you set that up the right way it’s going to be alright.”