Through The Eyes

An Oakland Athletics site

Reaching My Personal Best

By Taylor Bailey

I’ve always been a fairly shy and reserved person. I suppose I would be classified as the prototypical introvert.

Once I’m comfortable around you, I’ll talk your ear off, but it’s getting to that point and letting my guard down that’s the real challenge for me.

I’m from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

I always knew I wanted to move to the United States to attend college and compete in swimming, but I also realized it wouldn’t be easy.

Moving to a new country.

Leaving behind my family and friends.

Not to mention, I was part of a massive incoming swimming class when I enrolled and competed during the 2018-2019 season at Oakland University.

It was beyond intimidating.

As scary as it was being in a new environment surrounded by unfamiliar faces, the water was where I belonged.

Oakland was where I belonged.

I was just hoping I’d tap into my potential and blossom both in and out of the pool in my collegiate career as a Golden Grizzly.

A family welcome

One of the driving forces behind why I chose to swim at Oakland is because my club coach back home swam for Oakland. When I told him I was considering swimming for Oakland, he was unbelievably excited and pitched me quite heavily on the school.

When I arrived for my official visit, it was a holiday, so I was only able to meet about half the team, but I absolutely loved every person I came in contact with on that recruiting trip.

I got a family vibe immediately, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.

Let’s be honest, at this level, you’re spending hours upon hours with each other every single day, so you better enjoy your coaches and teammates.

Otherwise, it’s going to be a long college career.

Like I said, I loved everyone I met and almost immediately became infatuated with the university and campus. Signing with Oakland turned out to be a pretty easy decision for me.

While it was a tough transition at first, being in a new environment, not having my family there, taking harder classes at the college level, etc., I quickly adjusted thanks to the support of my teammates.

Fortunately, I had quite a bit of classes with several of my teammates, so I was able to see them every day at practice and in the classroom.

And leaning on the upperclassmen on the team for their support and asking questions was also a great help to me as I began my career as a student-athlete.

From the second I arrived on campus, Oakland treated me like family, and it’s something I’ll never forget.

Each other’s biggest fans

Throughout my first four years at Oakland, I have to say that the dual meets have been what I’ve enjoyed the most.

To be more specific, the introduction to dual meets.

Back in Canada, we don’t have dual meets, so this was an entirely new experience for me.

My first dual meet was an absolute whirlwind, and I enjoyed every second of it. I had four races in the span of two hours.

It was insane, and the team atmosphere was unmatched.

As intimidating as it was at first to be part of such a massive incoming class, once I got to know my teammates well, it became a huge advantage because I have my own cheering section rooting for me in every race.

And I do the same for them.

The Conference Championships are another good example of that. I remember during my sophomore season, the conference championships were held in Oakland.

We have a more compact venue compared to other places, and we completely used that to our benefit.

None of us had a voice left after about the third day. We also couldn’t hear anything because we were all screaming and cheering each other on.

It was amazing.

Conference championship week is always one of my favorite times of the year. Not only do we usually take care of business and win the Horizon League, but having that constant support – from the men’s team as well – is just so special and means everything in the world to me.

It’s more than worth losing my voice and hearing for a while, and I’m sure my teammates would agree.


When I arrived for my official visit, it was a holiday, so I was only able to meet about half the team, but I absolutely loved every person I came in contact with on that recruiting trip. I got a family vibe immediately, and that's exactly what I was looking for. Let's be honest, at this level, you're spending hours upon hours with each other every single day, so you better enjoy your coaches and teammates.

Swimming against the best

When I look ahead to this upcoming season, a goal I have is competing at the NCAA Championships, which I haven’t been able to achieve in my previous four seasons.

I couldn’t think of a better way to finish my college career.

One goal I was able to accomplish recently, though, was having the opportunity to swim at the 2022 FINA Swimming World Cup in Toronto against some of the best swimmers in the world.

I was fangirling all weekend – no shame – especially when Katie Ledecky was sitting right next to me.

But all kidding aside, it was an amazing experience to see the top swimmers in the world up close and personal, how they prepare, and the drive they have to be at the top of the sport.

Not only was I proud of my times and how I swam, it was the perfect opportunity for me to learn from the best of the best as I head into my final season at Oakland.

Returning the favor

As I approach my fifth and final season at Oakland, I’ve come a long way from the shy and timid girl that stepped foot on campus as a freshman in 2018.

From competing in dual meets for the first time to losing my voice in countless conference championships, and raising those championships high in victory, I think what I’m most proud of is breaking out of my shell and evolving into a leader on this team.

I was a part of the leadership council on the team last year, and it was quite fulfilling to pay it forward, if you will, and offer advice and guidance to some younger members of the team.

As a wide-eyed freshman in an obscure environment, I was once in their shoes with countless questions and worries. I’m so happy that I can be that voice to ease their minds and continue this great family-oriented tradition that the Oakland swimming and diving team has.

Outside of the pool and upon completion of my Master’s program, I look forward to entering my professional career.

Everyone at Oakland has helped me grow so much as a person, and I want to give back in that regard.

Whether it’s a project manager for an organization working with kids with special needs, or a job in human resource management, my goal is to help and understand people. I want to put them in the best positions to succeed and enjoy their life, which I find incredibly rewarding.

Whatever my future looks like in my final season and eventual career path, I know for a fact that I have the full support of my Golden Grizzlies family.

Just like I always have.