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Senior Spotlight: Alexia Smith (Women’s Swimming & Diving)

Name: Alexia Smith
Sport: Women’s Swimming & Diving
Hometown: St. Augustine, Fla.
Majors: Biology and Statistics

Why did you choose UChicago?
I knew from my first trip to UChicago that I really wanted to go there. The beautiful campus, along with the many opportunities to participate in research, drew me in. Seeing how inclusive and friendly everyone was on the swim team was the final thing I needed to know that UChicago was where I wanted to be.

Favorite moment of your UChicago athletic career?
When Jason [Weber] gave me a hug after my mile at UAAs.

Favorite team tradition/activity?
White elephant! Every year on our winter training trip, the women’s team does a white elephant gift exchange. It’s always a mixed bag of what people get. This past year, I got Publix fried chicken.

What made you fall in love with your sport originally?
Coming from Florida, swimming provided an opportunity to jump into a cold pool on the brutally hot days. It was an easy decision to switch from running to swimming once I started swimming. Additionally, there is a certain camaraderie that I felt with being a part of the swim team that led to me really loving the sport.

What lessons have you learned through competing in your sport that have stuck with you?
I have learned the importance of hard work and drive, as well as how to manage my time. Swimming requires a lot of practice time to achieve the times you want. It is important to find something to work hard at during each and every practice, even those practices where nothing feels right. The amount of practice time, coupled with work and academics has taught me how to manage my time in all aspects of life.

What advice would you give to your first-year teammates?
Stick it through! There are many times where balancing swimming with all of your other obligations is very overwhelming. However, the joy and sense of pride you will get for sticking it through outweighs all the struggle.

Favorite UChicago class that you learned the most from and why?
Topics in Reproduction and Cancer was my favorite course here. I found some of the other biology classes to be boring and I was worried that I was losing interest in the life sciences. However, this class reignited my former passion for biology and taught me so much. The professors were really kind and had done so much in their fields.

Which UChicago faculty or staff member made the greatest impact on you and why?
Kale Davies made the greatest impact on me because he taught me to believe in myself. I had struggled with previous math courses at UChicago, but found success in his math courses thanks to his devotion to teaching. He truly cares about his students and does everything he can to facilitate their learning.

Favorite place on campus?
The Quad – especially during the fall. I love to see all the leaves change color and fall. The architecture of the buildings on the Quad is just beautiful.

Favorite thing to do in the city?
I love biking and running the Lakefront Trail. The Trail has some of the most spectacular views in the city, especially right behind Shedd.

What are your post-graduation plans?
Enter into the biotech industry and then I will likely go back to school to get my master’s.

Outside of your current sport, which sport or activity do you feel like you would excel at the most?
Triathlon. Triathlon is what got me into swimming in the first place and I would love to start doing it again someday. I feel that I could excel at it now that I have trained more in biking and swimming.

Favorite Chicago restaurant?
Ciccio Mio! This hidden gem has a speak-easy vibe that I fell in love with and it has some of the most amazing food in Chicago.

Favorite place you’ve visited?
Hands down the Bean.

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