Athlete of the Week: Caitlin Daday

Daday notched multiple wins this past weekend.

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Daday notched multiple wins this past weekend.

Mike Keeley

This past Saturday, senior swimmer Caitlin Daday led the Wildcats to victories over West Virginia and Iowa, winning both the 500-yard freestyle and the 1000-yard freestyle.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It feels good to contribute to the team.”

Even though her times were good enough to win both races, Daday said during the race she thought that her time was going to be better.

“Sometimes I can feel it, sometimes not,” she explained. “It just kind of depends on the race. When you’re doing really well you kind of know.”

Daday also spoke of the rush that comes from a close victory, recalling a recent 500 she raced in a meet against Penn.

“It was a pretty close race between me and the Penn girl. We both finished and I just out-touched her, which was really awesome,” she said. “That’s one of my favorite things about swimming. It’s fun to snipe people down and out-touch them, but it sucks to be on the other side of it.”

One of the most motivational moments in Daday’s career came two years ago as she was attempting to qualify for Olympic trials and missed out in her last chance by .35 seconds.

“It was one of those races where it really stung because I had been working so hard to make it for a very long time,” she explained. “At the same time, it also reset a lot for me swimming-wise and set the course for the last two years. It was pretty rough, but I enjoyed swimming more than I ever had after that.” 

Also as she is slowly approaching the end of her swimming career, Daday says she is learning to appreciate more than ever what the sport means to her and why she gets up early every morning to practice.

“Freshman… sophomore year when you’re in the middle of the grind, it’s hard to remember why you do it,” she hesitated. “You just kind of do it because you have to do it. With not that much longer left in my swimming career, I’m realizing how much I actually just love the sport. I have goals, and I think it’s fun to reach your goals.”

Besides Big East Championships at the end of the season, Daday says she is looking forward to the senior meet next Saturday.

“My best friend from home, Danielle Thomas, we’re racing La Salle and she swims at La Salle so it’ll be pretty cool,” she said.

Of everything non-swim related here at the University, Daday raved about her relationships with professors and the community at large throughout her four years.

“I’ve had really good professors here, that’s been a huge part of my experience here,” she said. “There are just a lot of good people here. I think professors, people, students, that’s what I like about it.”

Off campus, Daday raved about the variety and quality of food available on the Main Line, while at the same time having a quick answer for her favorite of the bunch.

“Iron Hill Brewery in Ardmore,” she said assuredly. “Definitely, they make a good steak there.”

Although she will miss swimming and the team once Big East Championships are over in February, Daday is anticipating her chance to just be a student until graduation.

“It’ll be weird to just be able to go to things that are during practice normally,” she said. “Just experience the non-athlete life for a little bit. So that’s what I’m kind of excited for.”

Despite her hectic schedule as a student-athlete, Daday manages to stay involved around campus through extracurricular activities.

“I’m co-Editor in Chief of POLIS, it’s like a literary magazine,” she explained. “We put together a magazine, there’s a lot of photography and artwork that get submitted. It’s meant to be mostly poetry and short stories, but there’s usually a lot of photography as well.”

Additionally, Daday is involved on and off campus in athletics-adjacent activities.

“We have a Christian athletes group (Athletes in Action) that I’m one of the leaders for, she said. I also write a lot. I write for a swimming magazine. It’s called Swimming World. It’s about anything swimming related.”

In the long periods of downtime that pop-up on bus rides and throughout meets, Daday says she usually just relaxes with music.

“I listen to music,” she said. “Usually just whatever’s popular. That Havana song (by Camila Cabello) is really catchy and gets stuck in my head all the time. My coach’s daughter, she’s three, there’s a video of her lip-syncing to it, so just because of that, it always gets stuck in my head.”