GENEVA, Ohio -- Brian Reynolds ran back and forth alongside the SPIRE Institute pool, shouting encouragement to the Drury swimmer in the lane closest to him.
He whistled in rhythm with the strokes she was making in the water, urging her onward. Waving his arm, he was encouraging her to just keep going. It was a long race at 1,650 yards, the longest here at the NCAA Division II national championships.
Drury fans in the stands sported T-shirts with the slogan “No Pain” listed in the native languages of the school’s large roster of swimmers. Surely, the T-shirts had nothing whatsoever to do with the event going on down below, not this one, not the one that’s nearly a mile in length and that took 66 grueling trips down the lane to complete.Reynolds continued to carefully watch the young woman, cheering her on as her lap times gradually improved, appearing to get stronger as the race wore on. Still, she did not make the finals scheduled for that evening and finished 13th overall.
The swimmer was his daughter, Allie.
Reynolds is a Drury legend, and for good reason. His men’s and women’s teams swept the national championships this year for the fifth time in the last six years and it was Reynolds’ 10th women’s title.
Surely, that would be a lot of weight on Allie’s shoulders to bear, to measure up, to live up to her father’s legacy. She insists, however, that it’s just not the case.
“It’s surprisingly not as much pressure as people would think,” Allie, who won Friday’s 500-yard freestyle consolation race, said. “He’s really good at being a dad at home and a coach at the pool.”
There’s probably good reason for that. Allie swims the distance events, and those are the ones that Drury assistant coach Jason Hite handles while his boss works with middle-distance and sprint swimmers.
“That does make it a little bit easier,” he admitted.
When Allie came out of high school, the joke was that she had three choices of colleges. She could go to Drury … or Drury … or maybe even Drury. Both laughed, but many children whose parents had cast such a long and successful shadow would not have been comfortable following them anywhere.
That was not the case for Allie. She wanted to be a Panther, but the last thing she wanted was for a spot to be handed to her because she was Coach Reynolds’ kid.
That meant a change for her, because she didn’t necessarily have a competitive, killer instinct growing up. She’s the third of sixth children for Reynolds and wife Amy, and the first to swim for him at Drury.
“I’m just so proud of her, because growing up, she was the happy-go-lucky child that just took everything in stride,” Reynolds said. “She wasn’t very competitive in nature, pretty easy going. She really started to swim well her last couple of years in high school.”
Allie laughed when asked about her dad’s “Drury, Drury or Drury” option for her.
“There was really only one choice for me,” Allie said. “I’ve always wanted to swim at Drury, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of this. When I got to college, something just switched and all of a sudden, I became competitive. I really wanted to earn my spot on the team.”
A junior, this was Allie’s second time to be a part of a national championship with her dad. She was also at Drury when the women’s squad finished a heart-breaking one point behind Wayne State (Mich.) in 2012.
“I’ve grown up and watched what he’s built and seen how much people love him and how much they love the program that he’s built,” Allie said. “It’s always been such an honor to be part of the team. I’m just so happy that I get to experience it as an athlete, and not just as his daughter.”
“There’s no words to describe it. It’s just phenomenal. There’s so much that goes into it that nobody sees. Our school and our alumni back us so much, it’s just incredible to be a part of something like this.”