Vavra continues to make waves
Photo courtesty of Mike Dickbernd/University of Indiana University of Idiana's Alyssa Vavra does the butterfly during a recent meet against Louisville. Vavra will be competing at the NCAA Championships this week.
Allysa Vavra's success in the pool shows no signs of slowing down.
Because of that, Vavra plans on keeping her swim career on the fast track.
A senior at Indiana University, Vavra still has another year of school ahead of her. She also has plenty of swimming in her future.
"I really haven't put an end date on my career," said Vavra. "I still have things I would like to accomplish and I feel like I'm still improving as a swimmer."
At Vavra's lofty talent level, improvement isn't easy.
A 16-time District 11 gold medal winner and a five-time PIAA State gold medal winner during her incredible high school career at Panther Valley, Vavra has continued to win medals, set records and capture honors during her career at Indiana.
After signing with the University of Virginia out of high school, Vavra transferred to Indiana midway through her freshman year.
"It was a great decision for me athletically," said Vavra. "I've really been able to improve as a swimmer during my career here.
"I've received great coaching and I've become more aware of what it takes to get to the next level of swimming."
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Vavra arrived at that next level, but it obvious she is there.
Last month at the Big Ten Championships, Vavra was named the Swimmer of the Meet after winning both the 200 IM and the 400 IM. But the accolades and accomplishments didn't start with that meet. As a sophomore, Vavra won her first Big Ten title by capturing the 400 IM. As a junior, she won both the 200 IM and 400 IM while setting pool, school and conference records in the process. She currently holds six Indiana school records in swimming.
Vavra's success hasn't just been on the collegiate level, either. This past summer, she was part of the United States National team at the Pan Am Games in Mexico, where she earned a bronze medal in the 400 IM.
"I've been consistently improving my times over the last few years," said Vavra. "That's somewhat of a rarity at this level of swimming. A lot of swimmers peak earlier in their careers or they are just burned out by the time they get to a certain age, I've been able to improve throughout my college career."
Vavra attributes that improvement to a lot of hard work.
"In addition to the time in the pool, there is cardio work, weight training, nutrition ... there are so many things that impact your performance in the water," Vavra said. "You also have to be able to persevere. You are going to have some hard times and some disappointments when you are competing. Being able to bounce back from them has also been important for me."
This week, Vavra won't be trying to bounce back from disappointments, she'll be trying to build on her success at the Big Ten meet. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday she will compete at the NCAA championships at Auburn University.
That is followed by an even bigger meet at the end of June the United States Olympic Trials.
Vavra doesn't like talking about goals, but it's obvious that she is excited about what the next few months might hold for her.
"I have some things I want to accomplish, but I'm going to keep them to myself," said Vavra about her expectations for the NCAA Championships and Olympic Trials. "What I will say is that I want to improve my times. I want to swim my career-best times in those meets.
"Every swimmer has dreams growing up and being an NCAA champion and qualifying for the Olympics are two of the biggest dreams you can have. I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought about those things probably since I started swimming but if I do my best, then I'll be okay with the results."
No matter how the next few months turn out for Vavra, she is certain that swimming will be a big part of her near future.
"I definitely plan on swimming competitively for at least the next year," said Vavra. "Being a member of the U.S. National team means they will pay for my entry into World Cup and Grand Prix meets so I plan on taking advantage of that.
"I still love swimming and as long as I'm having fun and improving, I plan to keep competing."
No matter how long Vavra decides to continue swimming, one thing is for certain, she's definitely still on the fast track.
So it might be a good idea to get on board for the rest of the ride it should be worth the trip.