A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Sports, WO Alumni

Ashley Backus: swimming in college

Sr. Ashley Backus looked up at the clock hoping, wishing, that it would say what she wanted it to say. It didn’t. She had missed a Division One state cut in the 500 free by a mere two one-hundredths of a second; for those of you who don’t know swimming, that is about this much: [                              ]. Most people would have been finished right then and there, but not Backus. Instead of throwing in the towel like so many others would have done, Backus instead decided to take her swimming to the next level: swimming at a Division One College. Backus is currently on the swim team at Butler University where she received an academic scholarship.

Backus graduated from WOHS in 2016 and started attending Butler University in fall of 2016. At West Ottawa, Backus was a crucial member of the girls swim, water polo, and softball teams. She was also an IB diploma candidate. Backus started swimming at age 8 for Tulip City Aquatic Club. She admits to not really committing to swimming until her sophomore year of high school; up until that point she had been mainly focused on travel and high school softball. “I chose swimming over water polo and softball because I enjoyed swimming the most. I felt that my swimming would push me to do my best and I would have the most success swimming” Backus said.

Many people love the sports they play, but not enough to dedicate large amounts of time to them while at college. Backus, on the other hand, said that she decided to swim in college because it is something she truly loves, and she is able to do it at a college she loves, “The main reason I decided to swim in college was because I was given the opportunity to do so at the college I love, and I feel that I can push myself even further than where I am now.” Even though Backus did not have the kind of success she had hoped for in high school, she believes that she can do bigger and better things at Butler University.

What is swimming at the college level really like? Backus says it is a lot like high school swimming. “The team atmosphere is a lot like high school where everyone is very close while the practices and meets are more like club swimming” Backus said. College, however, is nothing like high school. Backus says she enjoys her freedom and just how different college is from high school. Swimming has taught Backus how to persevere through hard times and never give in, and this translates directly into her schooling at Butler. “You are expected to be more independent than in high school because your professors don’t always tell you when there is an exam or homework is due… also there is no one here to make sure you go to class, it is very easy to skip or say you want to sleep in but then you miss assignments and basically trap yourself” Backus said.

Even though Backus by no means failed in high school at anything, not accomplishing one of her largest goals, making the state meet, has pushed her and continues to push her to be her best while she excels at Butler University.  

“I love Butler. The campus, students, and facilities make it feel like home. Swimming in college is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I look forward to my next four years. Go Bulldogs!”

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