Sports Editor: Online Michael Flaherty
Waking up at 5 a.m. three times a week and training nine times a week isn’t easy for the average high school student. But for Ally Larson (’19), it’s her weekly routine.
This hard work paid off as Larson recently verbally committed to swim for Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois starting in September 2019.
Leading up to this decision, Larson has been talking to different universities for more than a year. She narrowed down her options, visiting schools in the spring of her junior year, and fall of her senior year. Earlier this fall, she began making official visits to just a few schools where she met with the swim teams and got a feel for what the atmosphere is like. “After those visits with my final few choices, I was able to narrow it down and decide where I wanted to go,” she said. It was during her official meeting at Northwestern earlier this month that Larson knew it was the right school for her.
The decision was based on a number of different factors for Larson, with academics and team atmosphere being among the most important. “For me, academics came first, but I also wanted a good swim team so I could continue to improve at a collegiate level,” she said. “It was also really important to me that the team was nice and it was an environment that I could fit in and get along with.”
From the coaches point of view, the times were what mattered. One of Larson’s most important races was British Nationals this past summer because it was one of her last chances to show university coaches her times. “It is kind of stressful because so much can rely on one race…but it’s exciting,” she said.
Larson believes that her high school experience was different than everyone else’s because swimming was more important than academics for the universities she was interested in applying to. “Academics almost seemed like it wasn’t as important in the end…because I can only go to so many schools based on swimming,” she said.
Although academics may have been less important for her than others when it came to applying for college, Larson said being in high school has “been just as stressful for me as other people, but just for different reasons.”
After committing to Northwestern, Larson said she feels relieved as all of her hard work and time paid off. “I feel really happy with my final decision and I think it’s going to be a perfect mix of athletics and academics,” she said.
Although Larson still needs to apply to Northwestern this fall, it is merely a formality as she is guaranteed a place in the school, as by committing to a university, the institution will have already looked over her test scores and GPA. She is going to continue to train for the rest of this year but she is “going to enjoy [her] last year in London.”
Photos by Karen Field and from Ally Larson