The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa’s Olivia Swalley talks introduction to swimming, importance of swim caps

Swalley said she swims 10 seconds slower without a swim cap on.
Sahithi Shankaiahgari
Swimmers compete in the 200-yard fly during the final day of the Hawkeye Invitational at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. Iowa competed against Northern Iowa, Iowa State, Coe College, Nebraska, Rutgers, New Mexico State, and Colorado State.

The Daily Iowan: How did you realize you wanted to come to Iowa?

Olivia Swalley: I really had no intention of coming to Iowa. I wouldn’t say it was a last-minute decision, but when the opportunity was presented to me, that’s when I really realized I wanted to stay close to home. A lot of my friends go here, so it’s nice to see some familiar faces.

What other colleges did you look at?

I visited Ohio State and Auburn. When I came here for my official visit, I just knew this was the place for me.

How long have you been swimming?

I’ve been swimming for almost 10 years. I started at a country club when I was like 7 or 8, and then it kind of took off. I was doing a lot of sports but really found a passion for it by swimming at the country club.

What was the appeal to swimming?

It definitely was not practicing because it’s very hard and can get really boring. But it was always what I was best at, and I’ve always hated losing. Just having some really good friends through swimming has also kept me going.

What makes practice boring?

It’s just going back and forth 100 or 200 times. You can’t really have music because you’re underwater, so having your friends there helps a lot. You only have 10 to 30 seconds on the wall at a time, so getting in a little ‘Hey, how are you?’ or any jokes really does help.

When you compete in the morning and at night for a meet, how do you keep yourself focused in between?

We normally swim pretty early, so I’m up around six in the morning and swimming at eight. But when I come back from prelims, normally the first thing I want to do is take a nap. But it’s really important to keep your recovery going, so I eat something for lunch. I keep it light because sometimes I get really nervous, so it’s hard to eat. And doing stuff like foam rolling and stretching definitely helps too.

Have you always competed in the breaststroke?

Yeah, it’s the one that stuck the most. A lot of people struggle with breaststroke, but it just came naturally to me.

How have you managed to juggle sports, academics, and your social life?

It’s definitely been a real adjustment coming to college, but there’s a lot of resources that athletics gives us. I wouldn’t say it’s been easy, but easier than I expected.

How do you not get burnt out from swimming and stay motivated?

I have really high goals and the team environment helps me so much. We don’t get a lot of breaks during the season, so just setting a high standard for myself and having my teammates keep me accountable helps too.

How do you get on the swim caps you wear?

The swim caps are kind of hard to put on. If you’re sweaty or greasy it will just slip right off, so sometimes you have someone help you.

Do you notice a big difference when you swim without a cap?

Yes. Your hair can hold so much water, it’s insane. And the drag it takes – I’m probably 10 seconds slower when I have my hair down.

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About the Contributor
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.