During her high school years, Allie Watt was in the water before most of Southern Utah was even out of bed.
The Pine View senior, who competed with both her high school team and the Southern Utah Swimming Association (SUSA), started her day at 4:00am in order to fit in a 5:00am swim practice before heading off to school. She’d be in the pool practicing again at 3:30pm, transition into coaching beginning SUSA swimmers after that, and then attend high school swim practice from 8-10pm.
Looking at her rigorous schedule, it is obvious that Allie was dedicated to her sport. She began swimming with SUSA at the age of six, and although she has suffered burnout and taken a couple of breaks from the sport, she just couldn’t give it up.
“The water is a more natural environment for me than the air,” she says. “I feel like I belong there more than running or doing other sports.”
Allie’s mother, Amber Watt, confirms that Allie has been attracted to water her entire life. “We knew almost the second she was born,” Amber reflects. “Even before she could walk, she loved to play in the hose and pour water over her face.”
Amber’s reasons for signing Allie up for swim went beyond noticing her love of the water. “Whenever she was around water, she would just book it and jump in,” she says, recalling several scary occasions when Allie entered the pool at a very young age. That’s why Amber signed her up for swimming. “I was afraid she would drown because every time she got near the water she got in.”
Now, Allie is far more than just a proficient swimmer. At the end of her senior year, she holds three records for Pine View high school: the 200 individual medley, the 100 backstroke, and the 100 butterfly. “That was my long-term high school goal, to break three records,” says Allie.
With all of her achievements, Allie is quick to recognize those who have helped her succeed. “Every year at state or region when I get medals, I put them on my mom,” she says. “That’s my way of showing that she’s the real champion here. I couldn’t have gotten where I am, and I couldn’t do what I do without her.”
Another vital part of Allie’s life is her coach Dani Caldwell. Dani has worked with Allie since she was five years old and is much more than just a coach. “I feel like she’s taken me under her wing, and I feel like she’s been a really great example,” Allie says noting that Dani has helped her through some tough times.
Allie has already started to give to others, and her favorite way to do so is volunteering for the Special Olympics. Each year, Allie helps with the assisted swimming event. She gets in the pool and helps the athlete go from one side of the pool to the other. Even more than physically helping them, Allie loves to see their faces as they receive their medals. “I’ve never seen anyone so happy,” she says, “and to help people do that makes me feel super good.”
Helping others is something Allie wants to continue to do throughout her life. After high school she plans to pursue a career in psychiatry. “I just want to help people who can’t help themselves.” She is also fascinated by the way the mind works and the diseases that affect it.
“The water is a more natural environment for me than the air, I feel like I belong there more than running or doing other sports.“
Although Allie has been approached with a scholarship offer, she has decided not to continue to swim competitively in college. “It really was a very, very hard decision for me to make because there was this expectation for me to swim in college . . .it was very stressful because I felt like I was letting people down,” she says, noting that she doesn’t want the pressure of being on a collegiate team and would rather put more focus on academics. “Overall, it was a very good decision for me, and I don’t regret it at all. I’m very happy with how everything has turned out, and I’m excited to see what other talents I can pursue in the future.”
Allie will attend BYU-Idaho in the fall to work on her generals then perhaps transfer to Utah State.
While her journey will not include swimming at the college level, Allie is confident that the experiences competitive swimming has given her have prepared her to meet the challenges of moving into the adult world. “It’s taught me a lot about discipline,” she says referring to her rigorous swim schedule. “It’s hard to juggle, but it’s made me realize that when I’m older it’s not going to be any different. If I hadn’t been in swimming, I don’t think I would be as prepared as I am.”
Along with giving Allie an opportunity to learn balance and priorities, Allie’s involvement in swim also gave her a chance to shed stress. “It’s really just amazing because I’m moving every single muscle, and I am letting my stress out through every pore of my body. It’s just a great feeling to be exhausted when I get out of the pool and just feel like the load has been lifted.”
Allie plans to continue to use swim to relieve stress in the future. “It’s the only exercise I like,” she says, noting that she plans to be involved in the scrimmage teams at BYU-Idaho just for fun.
Allie has a bright future ahead of her. The life lessons she learned, the friends she made, and the experiences she had being involved with swim will never be forgotten. With the dedication Allie showed toward her sport, there is no doubt she will find success in whatever she puts her mind to next. • HSSI