Wheeling, W. Va. – When Wheeling University Swimming Alum Anna Davis was deciding where to take her next steps, she knew that 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 also finding ways to get involved in different clubs and organizations around the campus.
“Wheeling really gave me the opportunity to get as involved as I liked,” said Davis. “I was working a couple different places and I was also a part of Student Government. Wheeling gave me an all-around education and I was given the tools to handle all of the responsibilities that are on my plate.”
Growing up, Davis was the youngest of three, and all three were involved in sports. Initially, she and her brother took up the sport of soccer while Davis’s sister was looking for her sport. Once her sister found swimming, Anna jumped right in at around six years old. She competed alongside her sister for seven years in the sport until she was 13 years old. However, once she got into middle school, she decided to take a break from competitive swimming and focus on soccer.
She says the break was a chance for her to unwind from the yearly grind of competitive swimming and helped her avoid burnout from the sport.
“A lot of the time when you start (swimming) so young it’s very demanding and you’re training all year around and you end up getting burned out by the time you are in high school,” said Davis. “So (the break) gave me a couple of years to get 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 soccer and swimming throughout her first couple of years in high school at George Washington High School in Charleston, WV. While soccer was her focus in those first couple of years, she still competed for the GWHS Swim Team. After her Sophomore year, she ultimately made the difficult decision to focus solely on competitive swimming as she looked towards her path to college.
“High School swimming was fun, but initially it was a supplemental thing because I was playing soccer more my first two years,” said Davis. “When I turned 16, I realized that yes soccer is fun, but I think swimming is the move going forward. I could see myself swimming in college, so I went back to competitively swimming and ended up going to Wheeling for it.”
Davis took up swimming full-time for the first time during her high school Junior season and worked on improving her times. She says that she was a late bloomer, with her fastest times coming during her Senior year which is typically after the recruiting process, which usually happens during swimmers’ Junior seasons.
A West Virginia native, Davis said she always had Wheeling in the back of her mind as a great education and atmosphere. When she was looking for opportunities to swim at the collegiate level, her club coach, Greg Olsen, got her in contact with Mike Meyers, the Wheeling Head Swimming coach, who then brought her on campus.
It was a cold and dreary day according to Davis, but she fell in love with the campus and the small school atmosphere that it provided.
“It was a cold March Day (when I visited campus),” said Davis. “It was windy, it was grey, but it felt like home. It seemed really cozy in the B Room and at that time I had already decided that I wanted to swim in college so it felt like a good fit.”
When she got to campus, the transition was one that was admittedly difficult for Davis. After swimming just once a day, five days a week in high school, Davis was not fully ready for the transition to being a full-time college student-athlete. From the two-a-days to the workouts, Davis learned how to be a college athlete with the help of some upperclassmen that she already knew on the team. Eventually, she turned into one of the team’s top short-distance swimmers and helped the team to an Appalachian Swimming Conference (ASC) championship during her freshman season.
“Two-A-Days and lifting were the biggest transitions for me,” said Davis. “I was not the most dedicated swimmer in high school so going from practicing five times a week to eight was a big transition for me. Having people at Wheeling that I already knew definitely gave me some peace of mind that even though I may not know a majority of the people on campus, I could still have a couple of buddies as resources looking out for and encouraging me.”
By her sophomore year, Davis was writing her name in the history books at Wheeling in the short-distance events. On February 13th, 2015, she, and teammates Danielle Pekular, Jade Worrels, and Kelsey Zimcosky broke the school’s 200-Yard Free 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 Wheeling alum Jennifer Grabsky (’02) with a time of 23.91 seconds. By the end of her career, she held two individual Wheeling Swim records and one relay swim record with all three still standing to this day.
She was also a part of two ASC Championship teams as well as two teams that finished as runner-ups at the event. For Davis, it was the culmination of the goal she set during her freshman season to continue getting faster and it gives her pride to leave her mark on the program.
“It gives me confidence (looking back),” said Davis. “I had set out the goal during my freshman year to get faster throughout my career and to see proof of that on the wall is huge. It gives me validation that my hard work was worth it. All the sacrifices, all the aches and pains were worth it. It showed me I’m able to achieve whatever I put my mind to.”
Davis would graduate 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 highly involved during her time at Wheeling, working as a tutor in the ARC and as an intern in the HR department for Melissa Rose.
However, as she got to her senior year, her focus shifted to her career and life after college. She had picked up a Marketing concentration in that last year and it was a meeting with the head of the Marketing department at Wheeling that gave her direction on her career path.
He gave her the tools she needed to contact a Digital Marketing agency in Wheeling, and she began her career during her final semester.
“When I met with the Head of the Marketing department, Roe Goddard, he gave me two pieces of advice, one look into online marketing and two he gave me a directory of all the Wheeling businesses,” said Davis. “So, I went through that directory business by business to see who had internships in the field. I landed on a local Wheeling digital marketing agency, Direct Online Marketing, and on their website, they had a Digital Marketing Internship listed. I applied for it and ended up getting the position during my last semester at Wheeling. I had a paid internship with them from March until May and then they brought me on full time. It gave me a lot of great experience in the Digital Marketing field.”
Today, Davis continues to work in the Marketing field as a Digital Marketing specialist at 4moms, a company that sells baby gear, overseeing the company’s Digital Marketing strategies. Wheeling helped her find her way in life, and she tells the next generation of Cardinals to get involved and take risks no matter how scary those risks may sound.
“The small school environment might sound scary but honestly you get the chance to really get to know everyone around you,” said Davis. “It allows you to show up and be a part of more within your community.”