The transition from high school to college can be intimidating because a university is bigger, the students are older and for many, living on their own is a first. Though some people might think these are difficult challenges, for University of Utah freshman swimmer Parker McOmber, the challenges are even bigger: this is his first year actually being enrolled in a public school.
McOmber and his family have lived in seven different countries in the time since McOmber’s birth. Because they had to move every three years for his father’s job, the family felt being home-schooled was the best option. His mother has been his teacher over the years.
“[It was] something that was constant,” McOmber said. “It was nice to always have a set school.”
Not experiencing the typical “school setting” forced McOmber to learn to be independent and work on his own. But since most of the school work he did was through online classes, he didn’t have to be physically present for class. Now attending the U, he has had to figure out how to schedule his day and prioritize certain things, which he said has been difficult. It has also been a challenge to find a way to get from one place to another on such a spread-out campus, where all of his classes are far away from each other.
Balancing a sport, school and a social life in college is no easy feat, and this is something McOmber is learning as he goes. Wisely, he gave himself a head start on the college life by moving to Utah during the summer to take classes. During this time, he got into the swing of things on campus to prepare for the fall semester.
Although McOmber was born in the United States, until now he had never lived in the U.S., making the college step feel like he was making a giant footprint. Prior to moving to Utah, his family was living in Ecuador, and before that, he lived in Guatemala, which he said was one of his favorite places.
Despite being raised outside of the U.S., coming to an American university was always the plan. When he chose to attend the U, his family was overjoyed. His parents were especially pleased with his decision to attend Utah and join the swim team. His father played baseball as a Cougar before becoming a Ute himself.
McOmber was always encouraged to play sports. Along with swimming, he grew up playing tennis and volleyball.
“Sports have always been a big part of our family,” McOmber said. “They are something we focus on a lot in order to have interactions.”
The chance to compete on a big stage like the Pac-12 thrills McOmber. He is looking forward to competing in what he believes is the best conference for swimming. He admits he has already felt nerves this year, but “the coaches and the team atmosphere are filled with energy,” and that fuels him to strive for success.