BY BETH COLVIN
Zoe Thatcher is all about her head game.
The junior Auburn swimmer, who
went to the 2016 Olympic Trials, swims
distance freestyle and individual medley.
“It’s definitely a totally different race
than a sprint,” Thatcher said. She’s
training herself to think in the moment
instead of constantly racing ahead.
Instead of dwelling on her burning
arms, say, she’ll instead think about the
lap she’s swimming. “Your mind really
can play tricks on you.”
Up until college, Thatcher said, she
just swam, with no thought to, well,
how she thought about the sport. On
the sparkling blue decks of the Olympic
Trials, however, she had a revelation.
“I really am bad at psyching
Surrounded by Olympians and future
Olympians, Thatcher didn’t have the
times she wanted. But watching the
swimmers around her, Thatcher, an
avowed “thinker-aheader” knew she had
work to do, both in the pool and out.
With the help of a book her mom gave
her, How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering
the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by
Matt Fitzgerald, Thatcher is focused on
becoming a mentally strong swimmer
and having fun.
That’s not to say that thinking ahead
is all bad. It comes in handy when you
have to balance strenuous athletic and
“I have a planner and it’s full of stuff
up until next year,” the apparel design
and production major said. When she
gets a syllabus, Thatcher immediately
adds all the deadlines to the planner.
She also works her class schedule
around swim meets and practices.
“It’s a lot of planning and getting to
know your professors,” Thatcher said.
Phi Kappa Phi helped out with that.
Thatcher was one of forty-five
students who received the Second
Year Award, a cash award of around
$100 given to those who complete two
academic years with the highest GPA
in their college, said Susan Bannon,
associate professor and director of the
Learning Resources Center.
Thatcher, who was new to honor
societies, was encouraged to join Phi
Kappa Phi by her parents. She was
surprised by the award and, when she
was given the prize at the ceremony, the
professor handing out the awards was
someone she needed to talk to the very
next day about rearranging her schedule
to accommodate swimming.
“It helped break the ice,” she
said. “It’s a great way to make
Thatcher hopes to continue her
studies at the Savannah College of Art
and Design, which her younger brother
attends, and also has her eye on the
Olympic Trials again.
This time, with a much better head
on her shoulders.
Photo by Wade Rackley, Auburn Athletics — Zoe Thatcher swims in a meet versus the University of Alabama on Nov. 4.