Xenia Bond: The Swimmer

When senior Xenia Bond was only nine months old, her great-grandmother taught her how to swim. 

Her love of swim as a sport led her to join the Hillsborough County Swim Team in sixth grade. From the start, she had a tireless work ethic.  

“I just remember going from school to practice and not getting out until like 9:30 [p.m.],” she said. 

Once she entered high school, she also joined the Hillsborough High School Swim Team, but this was more for leisure than anything. “[The] high school swim team was just for fun,” Bond said. “I wanted to meet new people — I was at a new school [and] I only had classes with juniors and seniors, so I didn’t know anyone my age.” 

Her work on the Hillsborough County Swim Team, however, was a different story. Bond’s competitive demeanor caused her to rise above and beyond her fellow athletes. 

Before Bond began her training in eighth grade, her coach needed to make sure that she had what it took to be an Olympic swimmer. “That whole process of him [watching] me and [seeing] if he wanted to try to pursue it… took about eight or nine months,” she said. 

The training itself consisted of lots of drills. Bond’s coach loomed over the pool, timing her as she swam from one end to the other. He harped on her for holding her breath for too long, as it became a safety hazard — since Bond started off swimming at such a young age, holding her breath for long periods of time came naturally to her. Typically, coaches have to train their swimmers how to hold their breath longer. In this case, Bond was an anomaly. However, her biggest struggle was turning once she got to the ends of the pool. 

Bond sustained an injury during a practice one day. She dove too deep into the water and ended up hitting the bottom of the pool. When she collided with the floor, she twisted a certain way, tearing a ligament in her lower back. 

Bond’s back had been causing her grief for three months before she finally spoke up about it. She thought that she could just deal with the pain, but once it became evident that this would not be the case, Bond told her mother about her back.  

One of her main reasons for not saying anything can be traced back to her competitive nature. “[Getting to compete in the Olympics] was just something I really wanted,” she said. She also, however, had long term goals in mind. “I saw [the Olympics] as an opportunity to pay for college,” Bond said. 

The pain was constant from there on out. “Swimming, … not swimming, out of the pool, in the pool, [my back] just hurt,” Bond said. Once her coach found out, he was furious — not because she was injured, but because she swam on the injury for so long. 

Because of the severity of the injury, Bond had to stop her training altogether. The Olympics were officially off the table. 

Since then, while Bond has swam for leisure, she has not stepped back in the pool competitively. “I have yet to [really] get back in the pool. … I’m scared because I know I’m not going to be as good as I used to be,” Bond said. To this day, she still has back problems. 

“I do regret not saying anything sooner,” Bond said. But, like many people, she believes in learning from her mistakes. She’s since learned that if she injures herself in a sport, she needs to stop. 

““That process taught me [that] competing and winning isn’t everything,” Bond said. “I’m still really competitive, but I know how to lose now.”