Big Ten Senior Spotlight: Allie Davis of Purdue University

One of the best teams in the entire Big Ten when it comes to middle distance to distance swimming over the past few years has been the Purdue Boilermakers, and it should hardly come as a surprise that our next senior has been a force to reckon with in those distances throughout her NCAA career. A three-time NCAA Qualifier and multiple school record-holder, Allie Davis out of Santa Rosa, California will be one of the most explosive swimmers to watch in Ann Arbor next week.

Davis arrived came to Purdue as a highly decorated swimmer in both the high school and club swimming worlds. Representing Windsor High School in high school competition, Allie would lead the Jaguars to three league titles in the Sonoma County region, and she would also final at the California Interscholastic North Coast Section state meet seven times. As a member of the Neptunes Swim Club, she was the club record-holder in the 1000 free for the 13-14 (10:19.32) and 15-16 age groups (10:15.07), while also holding the team record in the 1650 free for the 13-14 age group (17:27.84). Additionally, she was a Junior National Qualifier in the 200 and 400 freestyles, while also being a Senior National qualifier in the 500 yard free. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Davis also accomplished something very unique at the age of 12, winning the women’s division of the Alcatraz Invitational Swim, a 1.25 mile open-water swim that takes place yearly in San Francisco.

Once she joined the Boilermakers, Davis immediately made a tremendous impact by proving to be a scoring threat every time she jumped into the water. At her first Big Ten Championships, she would take 14th in the 500 free (4:46.97, 4:45.61 in prelims), 11th in the 200 free (1:47.82), and 9th in the 1650 free (16:27.87). Her 500 free time in prelims and her 1650 free time were both team-leaders in terms of ranking, and she also provided a crucial leg on Purdue’s 800 free relay (7:08.92, 3rd). That relay would qualify for NCAAs, and Davis would provide the anchor leg on an 18th-placed finish (7:10.86).

Coming off a sensational first year in the NCAA, Allie quickly demonstrated that she was not about to slow down any time soon. At her second stint at the Big Ten Championships, she would take 13th in the 200 free (1:48.25, 1:47. 77 in prelims), 17th in the 500 free (4:45.53), and 18th in the 1650 free (16:28.13). She also provided anchor duties once more on the 800 free relay, helping the team grab 5th overall with a 7:07.01. For the second consecutive year, Davis would receive an opportunity to swim at NCAAs thanks to her contribution on the 800 free relay, and the Boilermakers would move up one place from the previous year to take 17th (7:08.34).

Not content with only swimming on relays at the NCAA Championships, Davis kicked everything up a notch during her third season with Purdue. At the Big Ten Championships, she improved on her average placings from the previous two years across the board with finishes of 9th in the 200 free (1:45.56), 11th in the 500 free (4:43.06), and 13th in the 1650 free (16:20.94). By season’s end, she would hold the second-fastest times on the team in each of her events, and she also held the distinction of being one of only three swimmers on the Boilermakers’ squad to score in each of her individual events.

On relay duties, Davis was equally impressive, and she contributed legs to Purdue’s 400 free relay (3:19.95, 7th) and 800 free relay (7:03.15, 4th). Notably, the 800 free relay effort absolutely crushed the previous school record of 7:06.90 from 2011.

For the first time in her career, Davis qualified individually for NCAAs with her swims at Big Tens, and she would take full advantage of this opportunity by swimming in four races at the meet. Individually, she would take 32nd in the 200 free (1:46.57), 28th in the 500 free (4:43.30), and 33rd in the 1650 free (16:25.89). In the 800 free relay, Allie would earn Honorable Mention All-America honors by contributing the anchor split on a relay that took 12th with a 7:05.53. The quartet (Rhiannon Sheets, Abby Jagdfeld, Nika Petric, and Davis) also became the first relay since 2011 to earn Honorable All-America Honors for Purdue.

As if it is not exhausting enough to list all of Davis’ accomplishments from her first three years at Purdue, she has been better than ever this season already. In front of a home crowd at the 2015 Purdue Invite, exploded for career bests in the 100 free (49.33), 200 free (1:44.54), and 500 free (4:40.51). Her 200 free sliced six-tenths of a second off the previous school record that had been set by Rhiannon Sheets, the subject of our Senior Spotlight feature for the Boilermakers last year, and her 500 free time became the second-fastest time in school history.

With a storied career already in the books, Allie Davis’ legacy at Purdue has been remarkable to watch as it has unfolded. There is no telling just how fast she will be at this year’s Big Ten Championships, and as she will almost certainly qualify for NCAAs with her mid-season times, we may not quite see her at her best just yet when the Conference Championships commence. Nonetheless, Davis is always a factor when she dives into the pool, and the Boilermakers will look to her to lead one final offensive for her team in Ann Arbor.

Best Times (SCY/LCM):
100 Free: 49.33/56.31
200 Free: 1:44.54*/1:59.76
500 Free/400 Free: 4:40.51/4:11.61
1000 Free/800 Free: 9:50.36/8:42.98
1650 Free: 16:20.94/2:28.14
800 Free Relay: 7:03.15*

*Denotes school record

School Major/Degree:  Major- Law, Minors- Communication and Psychology
Favorite Event:  200 Free
Favorite Hobby:  Writing
Favorite Movie:  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Person You’d Like to Meet Growing Up:  Elvis Presley
Favorite Food/ Pre-Race Meal: Jimmy John’s!!

At what age did you become involved with swimming? How did you get into it?

Ever since I was little I loved the water. The ocean was (and still is) by far my favorite place to be. I joined a club team just after I turned 6 years old. My mom was a swimmer growing up (as was my Grandpa) and she continued on to be a coach for Masters and high school in her adult years. My dad was a triathlete, so swimming really became a family sport. I would say my mom was easily the biggest influence in why I became a competitive swimmer.

What is your favorite collegiate swimming memory and why?

My favorite collegiate swimming memory doesn’t necessarily stem from one specific moment but more so a reoccurring moment. Every day at some point during practice I push off the wall and make eye contact with one of my best friends and roommate of 3 years, Nika Petric. In that instant we both smile quickly at one another and then continue on with our underwater kicking. It is a small but powerful reminder of all the amazing people I am surrounded by and how lucky I am to be here.

Last year, you qualified for NCAAs for the third consecutive year, including in individual events for the first time in your career. Do you feel like it has gotten a little bit easier to approach the meet each subsequent year as you gain more experience? Or do you feel like every year is completely unique when it comes to your mental preparation?

I feel like every year it has been progressively easier approaching NCAAs. One thing I have learned as a senior is that with experience comes familiarity and confidence. In my earlier years I remember being a lot more nervous, not knowing what to expect or who I will be racing. I was focused solely on what I needed to do to get the best results possible. Now that I’m a senior my mindset has completely changed. I just want to give it my all while enjoying every moment I have left with my teammates and coaches.

You had a spectacular mid-season meet this season at the Purdue Invite, with career best times coming in the 100 free, 200 free, and 500 free. Additionally, that 200 free swim (1:44.54) was a new school record as well. Can you talk a little bit about how that meet sets you up for your final Championship season with the Boilermakers?

I’m very happy with my results at the Purdue Invite! I walked away from that meet knowing my training was paying off and that I would need to continue to work hard if I wanted further success. Seeing our team do so well at a mid-season meet really instilled a sense of confidence and enthusiasm we have been able to carry throughout the season.

Do you have any plans/commitments following the completion of your collegiate career?

For the first couple years at Purdue I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. After discovering a bit more about myself through my time on campus I decided on the Pre-Law track. I’ll be staying at Purdue for a fifth year to finish undergrad while I apply for law schools back home in California!

What should we look forward to from Purdue as a whole at this year’s Big Ten Championships?

I have seen so many of our girls do extraordinary things in practice these past couple months. I think we are going to surprise a lot of people at Big Tens. It has shown through our training and attitude every day that we are excited, determined, and ready to race. There is no doubt that you will be seeing a lot of heart from the Purdue girls this year!

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Brian

Brilliant Article. I’m humbled as her pops…..Thank you very very much SwimSwam…..You’re the best…

Wendy

I can only imagine the pride you feel right now. Her parents raised her right. She’s an awesome young women who I’m sure will amaze you for years to come.

Catherine

Proud mom here!! WOW thank you swim swam for nailing it! Thank you coach John Klinge, coach of the year! And all of the coaching and Administative staff at Purdue. Go Allie!! HAMMER DOWN, BOILER UP ladies!!

Theresa

Thank you for sharing this article. At age 6, Allie, respectful of us adult Masters swimmers, would swim behind, then under, then in front of us in our lane while her Mom coached. We should have known then that she is just a natural in the water. GO ALLIE – we are rooting for you!

About Varun Shivakumar

Varun Shivakumar hails from Hoffman Estates, IL and swam competitively for 16 years. He swam both backstroke events at Northwestern University, and ranks fifth in the school’s All-time performances list in the 200 yard backstroke. Representing NASA Wildcat Aquatics, he also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE …

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