There is more than swimming, body art to Schwake


Adam Shay

Senior women’s swimmer Fallyn Schwake loves how jellyfish have remained the same for millions of years. “I don’t have to change for anyone,” Schwake said.

Adam Shay, Feature Writer

The concept of a jellyfish intrigues senior women’s swimmer Fallyn Schwake, which is why she has a tattoo of one on her left arm to represent who she is as a person.

Jellyfish are one of the oldest living organisms that have ever lived on Earth. Schwake said she finds the concept of jellyfish fascinating and how over millions of years, jellyfish have never evolved like other organisms have. They stay the same.

Schwake’s inspiration to have a jellyfish tattoo came from a photograph she took at the Shedd Aquarium. With that being said, the concept of jellyfish never changing means a lot to Schwake.

“My jellyfish tattoo means the most to me,” Schwake said. “I like that because I don’t have to change for anyone. No matter what obstacle is put in my way, no matter what society wants me to think, I don’t have to change for other people to like me.”

Her jellyfish tattoo is her second tattoo of eight that cover her back, ankle and foot. For seven out of her eight tattoos, she has gone to the same tattoo artist Josh Krstic.

On her ankle, she has a tattoo of a Ferris wheel that symbolizes all the times Schwake has gone to the Wisconsin State Fair. Schwake said she tries to incorporate personal meanings into all of her tattoos, regardless if they bring out emotions or not.

“I try to make them all have some meaning,” Schwake said. “Even if it’s as stupid as hating a Ferris wheel.”

Schwake has a tattoo of a shark on her foot, which she spontaneously got with her friend Jen. The purpose of the shark tattoo was because the shark is Jen’s favorite animal, whereas Jen then got a tattoo of a jellyfish on her hip.

“I’m really not that impulsive of a person,” Schwake said. “That’s why it’s kind of funny. It’s not like I randomly got a tattoo, I was all for it.”

Aside from her tattoos and talent in the pool, there is much more to her than body art.

At the age of 15, Schwake said she was diagnosed with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety.

Growing up in the middle to upper class lifestyle, Schwake was able to attend a good sized high school and have nearly every opportunity given to her.

In high school, Schwake veered off the stereotypical suburban life.

As Schwake dealt with her personal problems, she said it proves how anyone can be affected with problems, no matter where you live.

“It goes to show you that no matter what kind of background, everyone is susceptible to anything,” Schwake said.

Schwake said she has no problem with opening up about her personal life during high school. No matter how tough times can be, Schwake said that is just how life goes and you have to realize there is so much to live for still.

“That’s just how you get through life, you know,” Schwake said. “You just hit rock bottom and you realize you have so much to live for and it does actually get better.”

When it comes to swimming, her personal life has been her biggest setback.

She said her anxiety is sometimes overpowering when she comes to practice.

Through all of her times of doubt, Schwake said her work is the reason she has swam in college.

“I think that’s been my biggest setback in all of swimming,” Schwake said. “I get in my head sometimes that I’m not good enough or I don’t deserve to be here. I just have to remember that I’ve worked so hard to get here and no matter how fast I swim, I deserve to be here.”

Schwake specializes in freestyle and occasionally swims backstroke. She said her confidence in the pool is her biggest strength and she does not believe she has a weakness physically.

“I am consistent the entire time and will swim the exact same speed,” Schwake said. “My only weakness is myself, but none in the pool.”

Schwake said she has never had an influence when it comes to swimming and throughout her club-swimming career, she has dealt with coaches she did not get along with.

However, when Schwake came to Eastern, head coach Jacqueline Michalski was hired after her freshman year. Schwake said it was the first time she had a player and coach relationship that expanded outside for the locker room.

“It was an eye opening experience that someone actually cared about me,” Schwake said. “And like personally me, not just my abilities to do something or be an asset to the team. I have never had that relationship with a coach before.”

Schwake said while she is on the block, Michalski is there for her as a coach and the minute she is off, Schwake can open up to her about personal issues.

As much as Michalski has helped Schwake as a coach and life influence, Schwake said her mother has always been there for her too.

Looking back on her life, she said the amount of stuff she has put her mother through is astronomical.

“It’s amazing my mother still loves me,” Schwake said. “Amen to her. She still loved me during those times.”

The relationship Schwake and her mother has is as close as ever. Schwake said her mother will always be there for her, no matter how far away she is.

“If I called her up right now, she would be here in four and a half hours if I needed help,” Schwake said. “No matter what, no questions asked, any time of day or night. I love my mom so much and I didn’t really get that great appreciation of her until all that other garbage happened.”

As Schwake reflects on her life, she said she has a greater appreciation for everything she had done to make it this far. Whether it is surviving her own high school problems or day-to-day things like walking across the street, Schwake is excited about her life.

“I seriously don’t know how I made it this far, and I’m super excited I did,” Schwake said. “I think everyone should be excited that they made it this far.”

As she enters her senior year of swimming, Schwake does not care about setting goals for herself. She said as long as she is swimming, she does not need to set goals or a bar for herself.

“I don’t set a bar anymore. My biggest motivator for me is to get in and swim,” Schwake said. “No matter what I have to do, I need to swim.”

                  Adam Shay can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].