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This story takes you into the life of an athlete and all the joys and pains that come along with it. Tucker Burhans, UNC Class of 2022, grew up swimming summer league and then year-round club swimming since he was six years old. His journey of swimming continued throughout all of elementary school, middle school, high school, and onto college. Tucker went to many prestigious swim meets and competitions throughout his career and experienced both rewarding highs and humbling lows in this sport. Though the sport of swim was tough and truly a sport that requires immense obedience, Tucker really first experienced this when he came to UNC to swim at the D1 level. Not only did he have the strain of being a D1 college athlete at UNC on him, but he also still had to maintain the standards of UNC’s academic vigor. The things that really carried Tucker through these struggles were both love and support from his friends and family and his faith. He knew that no matter the struggles, hardships, and pain that would come from swimming, the steadfast and unchanging love he has from Jesus Christ would really be what keeps him anchored in life. Tucker, now a UNC graduate and a retired college swimmer, deeply appreciates all of the opportunities and relationships that swimming has given him but is grateful that he is now in a different season of life and can view the sport of swimming as a recent memory that made him the person he is today.

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A recent graduate from UNC Chapel Hill, Tucker spent a majority of his life in the pool working on his swimming career but also was heavily involved in other things in his life. Graduating with a degree in Statistics and Analytics from UNC, Tucker now works as a data engineer with Corning Fiber Optics based out of Charlotte, NC. In his free time, Tucker spends time with his friends hiking, going to Panther’s football games, playing Pickleball, and anything active with good company. Along with his love for being in the community, Tucker is heavily involved with his church, Mercy Church located in Charlotte. He spends time there volunteering and participating in home groups. Although Tucker was occupied with swim for most of his life, he has surely found his niches in other areas of life that are just as fitting and fulfilling.

"The people are the only reason that I really kept doing it."

Tucker Burhans


This story reaches into the raw truth of struggles and hardships that many athletes face, but is not discussed in everyday conversation. The coverage and conversation surrounding mental health awareness has begun to increase in recent years since the effects of mental health problems are started to be seen and reacted to. I thought that this story was a great opportunity to get the real details of how someone who has had a successful academic and athletic career can struggle just as anyone else. This story acts as an opportunity to provide hope and encouragement to those who may be facing similar struggles to Tucker, someone who went through the struggles but was able to persevere nonetheless.