Paschal swims strong at Georgia Tech
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
She’s right at home in the water.
From her days as a youth swimmer, to her time at LaGrange High, and now as a member of the Georgia Tech swim team, Allie Paschal has left the competition behind.
Paschal recently completed a successful junior season at Georgia Tech, and at the moment she’s bunkered in at home in LaGrange as she puts the finishing touches on the spring semester.
Paschal has specialized in the back stroke and the freestyle events at Georgia Tech, and her 2019-2020 season ended with a strong showing in the ACC championship in February.
A handful of Georgia Tech swimmers were going to compete in the NCAA championship, but the event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Paschal didn’t qualify for the NCAA meet, but she nonetheless had an exceptional season, and she competed in four events at the ACC championship.
Paschal has enjoyed her time at Georgia Tech, although it took her a little while to adjust to the lifestyle of a college student-athlete.
“School-wise, you have to balance student-athlete life, and that was a really big adjustment, especially at a tough school like Tech,” said Paschal, a 2017 graduate of LaGrange High. “I knew going into it that it was going to be a challenge, but I still felt like I underestimated that just a little bit. But it was only really tough the first several months and you get used to it. You know what to expect. At this point, it’s fine. At first, it was a little challenging.”
Paschal arrived at Georgia Tech on the heels of a memorable stint as a member of the LaGrange High swim team.
In her final high-school competition in February of 2017, Paschal won a state championship in the 100-yard backstroke in a race that featured swimmers from Class A to Class AAAAA.
During her memorable high-school career, Paschal had six top-five finishes in the state meet with an individual championship.
With her high-school days behind her, Paschal packed her bags and headed to Atlanta to join the Georgia Tech swim team where her sister, Maddie Paschal, was a senior on the 2017-2018 team.
Allie Paschal immediately established herself as a top swimmer at Georgia Tech, and she has been a consistent performer for the past three seasons.
As a sophomore, Paschal had a time of 53.46 seconds in the 100-meter backstroke, which was the second-best time in the history of the program in that event.
Paschal also owns the eighth-fastest 200-meter backstroke time in program history, and she had a personal-best time in the 50-yard freestyle this season.
As a junior, Paschal was Georgia Tech’s fastest swimmer in the 100-meter backstroke and the 200-meter backstroke, and she won both of those events during a competition against Georgia Southern and Savannah College of Art & Design.
Paschal has also been chosen to compete on the relay teams at the ACC championship the past three years, and that’s something she’s proud of.
“I’ve been able to swim at the conference every season. Not everyone gets to go,” Paschal said. “I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve got to go and compete for the team at meets, and I’ve always been able to swim on relays at our ACC conference championship. At our normal in-season meets, we’ll have multiple relays try to score points. We’ll have an A relay, and a B relay, and a C relay. But at ACCs, we’ll only have one relay, so I’ve been put on relays last year and this past year. It’s been really exciting, and it makes you feel really good to get placed on a relay.”
While Paschal is always pushing herself to achieve more, when she looks back at her first three seasons as Georgia Tech she’s pleased with what she’s accomplished.
“I’ve been satisfied, and disappointed. My seasons have been up and down,” she said. “My freshman year, and my sophomore year, I’d be super-consistent during the season and I’d swim really fast times, and then I wouldn’t swim as fast as I thought I would at the (ACC) championship. But looking back at the season, I did really well throughout the whole season. You’re putting all of this pressure on this one meet at the end of the season. I’ve learned to look past that one meet, and I’ve still scored a ton of points for the team throughout the whole season.”
Paschal has enjoyed the support of her family over the years, including her sister Maddie, who was a four-year member of the Georgia Tech swim team.
Paschal’s parents, William and Heather, have been able to attend most of her meets over the years, which wouldn’t have been possible if she’d gone to a school further away.
“I was looking at Indiana University,” she said. “My parents wouldn’t have been able to come to any of my meets. I love having my parents in the stands. Most of the time, they’ll even come to a lot of our away meets.”
The 2020-2021 season is set to get underway in September, and while Paschal doesn’t have access to a pool at the moment, she’s doing her best to stay fit.
The strength coach for the Georgia Tech swim team has been providing workouts for the team members.
“Everything is voluntary at this point. They’re just highly encouraging us to stay in shape,” Paschal said. “I’m hoping everyone is. I have, and I know a lot of my teammates have been, just trying to stay in shape anyway we can.”