Former swimmer follows his passion

By Aaron Graff

Athletes make sacrifices for their sport, but sometimes have to sacrifice their sport for their passion.

Andrew Spencer, a senior from Knoxville, Tenn. studying cinema spent his first three years at SIU as a swimmer, but left the team to focus on his schoolwork this year.

“My passions definitely switched,” Spencer said. “I used to be super passionate about swimming, and I still am about the sport, just not being involved as an athlete. I did an internship over the summer and definitely switched completely over to filmmaking, almost 100 percent.”


Spencer still attends the Saluki swim meets to support his former teammates and do some video work for the team. Spencer made a video to promote the Salukis’ season and it has more than 400 views in less than two weeks.

Coach Rick Walker said Spencer is still a part of the team because he is still around the pool deck doing projects like the video, which could potentially help recruiting down the road.

“Not having him in the pool is probably one of the things I miss the most,” Walker said. “He’s a good hard worker. He sets a very high standard for everybody else to compete at in practice.”

Spencer said he definitely misses swimming, but he probably would not have time to accomplish all of his goals in filmmaking this year if he was on the team.

“Where he is going and what he is doing, he needs that time in order to excel,” Walker said. “That was a decision I supported, even though it was a loss to us.”

Spencer is working on an independent study film called “JUXT” this year. He said it is a story where the viewer roots for the antihero because it is a common theme in movies and television shows today. He hopes to make it nearly 30 minutes long and wants to submit it to film festivals after completion.

“Just with storyboarding, and getting the script completed and meeting with my professor, it’s just so mentally exhausting,” Spencer said. “I don’t think I could handle the exhaustion of being a swimmer and being an artist. I struggled with that in the past.”


Walker said swimmers have quit before because it is common in life for people to quit something to put more focus elsewhere. Junior swimmer Till Pallmann said his top priority is swimming, but it is challenging with schoolwork, because he wants to do well academically as well.

“It gets stressful at some points,” Pallmann said. “Especially during the week when I have a lot of homework to do and I have to go to a weekday morning practice. Sometimes I can’t make that because I have to finish my schoolwork first.”

Spencer said when he looks back at his older work he notices a lot of things he would do differently, but realizes he did not have enough time to perfect his work.

“I felt like I didn’t belong in the pool anymore,” Spencer said. “I felt like I belonged more behind the camera than in the pool.”

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected]on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269