Wheeling, WV — When former University of Wheeling swimmer Anna Davis decided where to go, she knew she wanted a small college where she could get involved. When she found Wheeling University, it gave her the best of both worlds, allowing her to continue the sport she loved while finding ways to get involved with different clubs and organizations on campus.
“Wheeling really gave me the opportunity to get involved as much as I wanted to,” Davis said. “I worked in several different places and was also part of student government. Wheeling gave me a well-rounded education and I was given the tools to handle all the responsibilities that came my way.”
Growing up, Davis was the youngest of three children, and all three were involved in sports. Initially, she and her brother took up the sport of football while Davis’ sister was looking for her sport. Once her sister discovered swimming, Anna jumped into it when she was six years old. She competed alongside her sister for seven years in the sport until she was 13. However, once in college, she decided to take a break from competitive swimming and focus on soccer.
She says the break was a chance for her to relax from the annual routine of competitive swimming and helped her avoid burnout.
“A lot of the time when you start (swimming) so young, it’s very demanding and you train all year and you end up burning out by the time you’re in high school,” Davis said. “So (the break) gave me a few years to reset, refocus and be ready for the next six years of swimming.”
Thanks to her break from competitive swimming, Anna was able to split her time between football and swimming throughout her first two years at George Washington High School in Charleston, WV. While soccer was her focus during those first two years, she still competed for the GWHS swim team. After her sophomore year, she finally made the difficult decision to focus solely on competitive swimming as she considered her path to college.
“High school swimming was fun, but at first it was something more because I was playing soccer for my first two years,” Davis said. “When I was 16 I realized that yes football is fun but I think swimming is the way to go. I saw myself swimming in college so I went back to swimming from competition and I ended up going to Wheeling for it.”
Davis first started swimming full-time during his high school junior season and worked to improve his times. She says she blossomed late, with her best times coming during her senior year, usually after the recruiting process, which usually happens during swimmers’ junior seasons.
A native of West Virginia, Davis said she always had Wheeling in mind as a great upbringing and atmosphere. When she was looking for opportunities to swim at the college level, her club coach, Greg Olsen, put her in touch with Wheeling Head Swimming coach Mike Meyers, who then brought her to campus.
It was a cold and dreary day according to Davis, but she fell in love with the campus and the small school atmosphere it offered.
“It was a cold March day (when I visited campus),” Davis said. “It was windy, it was gray, but it felt like home. It looked really cozy in room B and by that time I had already decided that I wanted to swim in the college, so that was fine with me.”
When she arrived on campus, the transition was admittedly difficult for Davis. After swimming once a day, five days a week in high school, Davis wasn’t quite ready for the transition to full-time student-athlete status. From the two days to practices, Davis learned to be a varsity athlete with the help of some upper class members she already knew on the team. Eventually, she became one of the team’s top short-distance swimmers and helped the team win an Appalachian Swimming Conference (ASC) championship in its first season.
“Two-A-Days and lifting were the biggest transitions for me,” Davis said. “I wasn’t the most dedicated swimmer in high school, so going from five practices a week to eight was a big transition for me. Having people in Wheeling that I already knew definitely gave me some peace of mind. mind that while I may not know the majority of people on campus, I could still have a few buddies as resources to help and encourage me.”
By his second year, Davis was writing his name in the Wheeling history books in the short distance events. On February 13, 2015, she and teammates Danielle Pekular, Jade Worrels, and Kelsey Zimcosky broke the school’s 200-yard freestyle relay record with a time of 1:38.59 at the 2015 ASC Championships.
Later in the meet, Davis went solo in the 50-yard freestyle and broke a 13-year-old record set by former Wheeling Jennifer Grabsky (’02) with a time of 23.91 seconds. By the end of her career, she held two individual Wheeling Swim records and a swim relay record, all three of which still stand to this day.
She was also part of two ASC Championship teams as well as two teams that finished second in the event. For Davis, it was the culmination of the goal she set in her first season to keep going faster and it gives her pride to leave her mark on the program.
“It gives me confidence (looking back),” Davis said. “During my first year, I had set myself the goal of going faster throughout my career and seeing the proof of that on the wall is huge. It confirms to me that my hard work was worth it “All the sacrifices, all the aches and pains it was worth it. It showed me that I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to.”
Davis would be graduating from Wheeling in 2017 with her degree in business, marketing and management with a minor in Spanish, but her work had already begun. She was very involved during her time in Wheeling, working as a tutor at the CRA and as an intern in the human resources department of Melissa Rose.
However, as she reached her senior year, her focus shifted to her career and life after college. She had chosen a major in marketing over the past year and it was a meeting with the head of Wheeling’s marketing department that guided her on her career path.
He gave her the tools she needed to contact a digital marketing agency in Wheeling, and she started her career in her final semester.
“When I met with the head of the marketing department, Roe Goddard, he gave me two tips, an overview of online marketing and two, he gave me a directory of all Wheeling businesses,” Davis said. “So I went through this directory company by company to see who had internships in the field. I landed on a local digital marketing agency in Wheeling, Direct Online Marketing, and on their website they had an internship of digital marketing listed. I applied for and ended up getting the job during my last semester at Wheeling. I had a paid internship with them from March to May and then they hired me on time It gave me a lot of experience in the field of digital marketing.
Today, Davis continues to work in marketing as a digital marketer at 4moms, a company that sells baby items, overseeing the company’s digital marketing strategies. Wheeling has helped her find her path in life, and she’s telling the next generation of Cardinals to get involved and take risks, no matter how scary those risks may seem.
“The small school environment might seem scary, but honestly, you get to really get to know everyone around you,” Davis said. “It allows you to show up and be a part of more within your community.”