A letter from Tony in New York to his mother, explaining why he chose to leave for Harvard and escape their family conflict.
Hi there Mum,
Firstly I just want to apologise for leaving. I know my leaving would have caused great conflict for you, although this was such a hard choice to make, to leave the people I love and have known my entire life I have never been more content than I am now, I am truly happy, I have made amazing friends here and my swimming has really improved with my new coaching. Leaving you and my brothers behind was the toughest decision I have ever made but I am so glad I made this choice, for myself it has been the most incredible experience and although I do miss you so so much I needed to do this for myself.
The conflict with Dad had become too much for me, my swimming was no longer about being the best I could be, it was about pleasing Dad over anything else. I’m not proud to say that there was a point in time when I would rather have lost than won just so I didn’t have to do it anymore. I used to love swimming so much, it was everything I thought about, winning the world championship, well that was something I had dreamed about since I was a child, I never thought there would ever be a point in time where I wanted anything more, however there was, I was only swimming for Dads approval this became far more important to me than any championship could ever have been. There was no way I was ever going to move forward and develop an identity if I just stayed in that shabby old town and kept doing the same thing for the rest of my life. I needed to change and I feel like it was my conflict with Dad which motivated me to take this enormous leap the most, I mean of course there was other things which influenced my decision however it was mainly this conflict which allowed me to grow and develop as a person.
Since I have been here in New York I have been able to make some absolutely incredible friends some of whom are swimmers and some of...