As a young girl, Allie Day enjoyed playing soccer, basketball and softball. Of the three, softball was her favorite.
But she was also passionate about a fourth sport, one that, by the time she reached high school, compelled her to forgo all others.
That sport was swimming. And today, the 21-year-old Center Grove graduate is not only still going strong in the pool, she’s reaping the rewards of her dedication.
A senior on the 10th-ranked Indiana University women’s swim team, Day has been among the nation’s top swimmers throughout her college career. One of the Hoosiers’ most versatile performers, she’s a three-time NCAA qualifier whose best event is the 200 backstroke.
She’s also qualified for the NCAAs in the 100 backstroke and the 200 medley relay.
A U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier while still in high school, Day is competing with the Hoosiers at this week’s AT&T Winter National Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. The event started Wednesday and concludes Saturday.
What follows is a Q&A interview with Day, who spoke with the Daily Journal on Tuesday before departing for Greensboro.
She reflects on her college career and what she still hopes to accomplish.
Q: What has the college experience been like? Has it been what you hoped it would be?
A: My freshman year was good going in, because I was a little naive about everything. Sometimes that’s the best, especially for this sport. The more you do it, and the more you devote your time to it, you realize it’s not just a sport. It’s like you job. And not in a bad way, necessarily.
There are very high expectations of you. You don’t really realize when you’re signing your commitment letter (that) you’re signing over a lot of time. You just have to be sure to be passionate about the sport. It’s really easy with the environment we’re around to be passionate about it, with the coaches and the team. So that makes it a lot easier.
Q: What age did you start competing?
A: I started swimming when I was like 7 or 8. Ever since then, I’ve always been competitive about it. I guess I’ve just always taken it pretty seriously.
Q: Did you play any other sports?
A: I actually played softball for 11 years. That was like the hardest thing, was to stop playing that, just because I obviously needed to focus on swimming if I wanted to swim Division I. I did basketball and soccer, but I wasn’t the greatest at. Softball was definitely something I was really good at, too.
Q: What do you enjoy about swimming? It’s obviously taken you a lot of places.
A: Definitely, it’s taken me a lot of places, and I’ve met multiple people who have a lot of connections, which is awesome, especially after I’m done swimming. But I think it builds character, more than any other sport would. It takes up so many hours of your day, and the dedication that you have to have for the sport, I think it really makes people responsible, and you have to be organized. It requires a lot from you, and I think that just builds really good character.
Q: What is a typical day like during the season?
A: We have practice 5:45 to 7:30 every morning in the water, and then immediately after that we go lift for an hour on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then on Tuesday, Thursday we row for an hour. And then we have practice 2:45 to 5 in the water at night. That’s every day, except Wednesday we just have one practice in the water, and then Saturday we just have one practice in the water.
A: How tough is it to balance school with the sport?
Q: It sounds like it’d be hard, but after doing it for so many years, it’s just kind of routine. It’s not too difficult anymore. It’s always been my life, so I’ve always just kind of worked my way around it. It’s always worked out, so that’s good.
Q: Does it seem like it’s gone quickly?
A: I remember freshman year like it was yesterday. I can’t believe I’m almost finished.
Q: Do you have any specific goals or benchmarks you’d like to reach this year?
A: I don’t give specific times. I know what times I want to go, but I kind of keep that to myself. But I’d love nothing more than to become an All-American this year.
Q: You qualified for the Olympic Trials in high school. Are the Olympics still on your radar?
A: It was, but I think I’m just kind of ready to move on from the sport come March. I have had a great however many years I’ve competed. I think it’s just my time to move on.
Name: Allie Day
College: Indiana University
High school: Center Grove (2011)
College highlights: Placed 32nd in 200 backstroke at the 2014 NCAA championships; Academic All-Big Ten and CSCAA Scholar All-American her junior year; placed 20th in the 100 backstroke and 21st in the 200 backstroke at the 2013 NCAA championships, and was Academic All-Big Ten; swam on the Hoosiers’ 20th-place 200 medley relay team at the 2012 NCAA championships and was 30th in the 200 backstroke
High school highlights: Was runner-up in the 100 backstroke at the IHSAA State Meet her senior year, and was part of the Trojans’ national record 200 medley relay team; qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Major: Community Health
Career goal: Pharmaceutical sales
Parents: Stephen Day and Dawn Russell