By Jacob Kisamore
Special to The Alamance News
Western Alamance High School graduate Elizabeth McDevitt has spent the last 13 years of her life swimming competitively. Next month, she will begin the next chapter of her swimming journey as a member of Drexel University’s varsity swim team.
“Swimming is just something I fell in love with,” McDevitt said. “Everything has been just amazing, and I have found my second family along the way.”
McDevitt enjoyed a stellar swimming career at Western. She served as a captain for the team during her senior year and qualified for the NCHSAA 3A State Championships in each of her four years competing for the school.
Her best results at the state meet came as a junior in 2020, when she placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly competitions.
For McDevitt, the highlight of her swimming career came at the 2020 NCHSAA 3A Central Region Championships, where she won the 200-yard freestyle event. She also won the 100-yard butterfly that year and defended her 200-yard freestyle title in 2021.
McDevitt will attend Drexel on a partial athletic scholarship and plans to major in chemical engineering. She said she chose the school over Lafayette and Carnegie Mellon, two other Pennsylvania schools, because she felt it was a better academic fit for her.
Ironically, however, when she gets to go to the swimming pool on Drexel’s campus, it will be the first time she’s ever seen it.
“The butterfly is widely known as one of the hardest strokes, and I like the challenge. It’s my favorite stroke, and when something’s your favorite and you love it, it tends to become one of your best.” – Elizabeth McDevitt
“I didn’t see the campus until last fall, and still haven’t actually seen the pool,” McDevitt said. “I relied a lot on talking to the coaches on Zoom meetings and the atmosphere and the feeling that I got from the team and the coaches ultimately led to my decision.”
A freestyle and butterfly specialist, McDevitt plans to compete in both 100- and 200- meter butterfly events at Drexel. The Philadelphia school has had not had a conference champion in any butterfly event since the 2018 season, but McDevitt is confident she can step in and succeed right away.
“The butterfly is widely known as one of the hardest strokes, and I like the challenge,” McDevitt said. “It’s my favorite stroke, and when something’s your favorite and you love it, it tends to become one of your best.”
In 2019, McDevitt applied to represent Team USA at the International School Sport World Swimming Championships, a biannual swimming competition that takes place in a different country each time. While she did not expect to receive a spot on Team USA’s roster, she learned that she made the team during a family dinner.
“My parents handed me a manila folder. I opened it and found the letter that said I was selected to the team,” McDevitt said. “I started crying at the table.”
The event took place in Brazil, and McDevitt swam in four events – the 200-meter individual medley, the 50- and 100-meter butterflies, and the 50-meter freestyle. She described the experience as “amazing.”
Along with competing for Western’s swim team, McDevitt also swam for her club team, the Alamance County Community YBAC Hurricanes. In the summer of 2019, she competed at the YMCA Long Course National Championships in three events. She said her time with her club teammates helped her grow as both a swimmer and a person.
“Spending time with my friends and learning from them was one of my favorite things growing up,” McDevitt said. “One thing I’ve learned from club swim is how to be a leader and how to step up and take responsibility,” McDevitt said.
On her coach/dad: “He’s done a really great job of being a coach at the pool and a dad at home. He’s been one of my biggest fans and harshest critics.” – Elizabeth McDevitt
McDevitt’s father (David) coached her for most of her swimming career. McDevitt said he taught her a lot about the sport and credits him with getting her through swimming.
“He’s done a really great job of being a coach at the pool and a dad at home,” McDevitt said. “He’s been one of my biggest fans and harshest critics.”
McDevitt was a member of Western’s chapter of National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society. She has also served as a volunteer lifeguard and swim coach at the Alamance County Community YMCA since she was 12.
McDevitt says her next big goal as a swimmer is to compete in the next U.S. Olympic swimming trials. She also hopes to make an instant impact as a butterflier at Drexel, which has not won a Colonial Athletic Association championship in swimming since it joined the conference in 2002.
“I hope to be able to make a contribution to a conference championship team,” McDevitt said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to step up as a butterflier, make some relay teams and score some points for them.”
McDevitt is the daughter of David and Roberta McDevitt of Burlington.