It’s the fun memories that keeps Olympic medalist Betsy Mitchell laughing about her time in the pool at Mercersburg Academy more than 30 years later.
It’s also the focus instilled in her by her coach at the school that helped her win three Olympics medals in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics.
“Dreaming big dreams, having big goals, having audacious thoughts — Mercersburg taught me that,” said Betsy Mitchell, Olympic medalist.
Betsy said her dream of becoming an Olympian started in the Flanagan Pool at the academy, so having big dreams and being determined to make them come true is exactly the message that she wants to give students.
“This was my place to shine,” said Mitchell. “I learned about hard work. I learned about digging deep. I just have the utmost admiration for the students coming after me.”
She was humbled to speak to students at the Cum Laude convocation that honored 25 seniors for their academic excellence. Maddie Rogers, a swimmer and scholar at the school, said she related to Betsy’s story. 
“She said before she came to Mercersburg, she never really tried, in swimming or academically. When she got here, she sort of realized if she put forth a lot of effort, she was going to be a lot better than she was,” said Maddie Rogers, senior student. “I struggled a little bit with self motivation when I came here, so I recognized the struggle.”
Rogers is headed to Northeastern University in the fall.
Like her, Mitchell said she started her self journey at the academy and wants students to remember that reaching any goal beyond this school will also come with self discovery.
“We choose to focus on the challenge: the barrier, the limitation, the ‘can’t do,’ instead of what I can do. I think that a self-praising loop is what builds confidence,” said Mitchell.
Currently, Betsy Mitchell is the Athletics Director at Caltech University.
She spoke at the convocation that awards students’ recognition equivalent to Phi Beta Kappa.