At first sight, you can’t help but think, “Him?” Five foot nothing, one hundred and nothing, this is one of Harvard’s most versatile athletes? Yes.
Admittedly, junior Drew Davis is hardly a physical presence. Yet, despite his size, he carries himself with an athlete’s grace—shoulders back, spine straight, and focused blue eyes. After meeting him, you can suddenly picture it: Davis guiding the crew team, standing on the diving platform, and churning his feet along the pavement.
Davis holds the rare distinction of being a two-varsity athlete at Harvard. In the winter, he is a diver for the Crimson swimming and diving team, and, in the spring, he is a coxswain for the heavyweight crew team. On top of those commitments, Davis completed last year’s New York City Marathon.
“Each sport has its own little niche that I like about it,” Davis says. “The leadership I get with the crew team is a pretty cool thing, and the running—I like the solitude of it and being able to clear your mind and go for a long time. The diving—I’m sure it’s like this if you score a goal in soccer or lacrosse, but when you nail a dive and you put a lot of parts together and make something work, it’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Taken individually, Davis’ accomplishments are remarkable: he is a Division I athlete in two sports, and his hobbies include long-distance running. But the fact that he is at a preeminent university makes it all the more spectacular. Though Davis has “doubles” four times a week and “triples” twice a week (he guesses practice totals about 25 hours a week), he says maintaining his academics is not the hardest part of being an athlete.
“It’s trying to fit in a social life that I’ve had more trouble with.”
When Davis began at Harvard, life was not such a whirlwind. Though he wanted to do both diving and crew—two sports he had competed in throughout high school—the swimming coach discouraged him from taking on too many commitments. As a result, Davis competed only on the freshman crew team his first year. Soon thereafter, the pace picked up.
The summer before sophomore year, Davis decided to run the New York City Marathon, and, after training throughout the fall, he finished last year’s race in 4:23:10. Days later at a swim meet against Columbia, Davis heard the Crimson needed divers, so he decided to email the swimming and diving coaches.
“They said they’d be more than happy to have me, so four days after the marathon I was back on the boards.”
“I can’t imagine having to split my time between two varsity teams. It’s really a testament to his hard work,” says Geoff Rathgeber, the captain of the swimming and diving team. “It’s pretty amazing.”
When asked what his most grueling physical test has been, he replied, “Probably the crew team triathlon. It’s a 7500 meter erg and a four-mile run and then a full tour of the stadium. The heavyweight team does it in December as something to keep our focus on when we don’t have any races.”
“Coxswains aren’t required to run that, but I’ve done it the last two years,” he adds sheepishly.
Of course he did. But for now, Davis is focusing on more immediate goals.
“I’d really like to make the varsity eight in the spring,” he said of the heavyweight crew team, “and I’d like to make it back to the Eastern Championships for swimming and diving, so just working for those two goals in tandem is unfortunately all I can put on my plate right now.”
Despite past achievements, Davis has an eye on the future.
“Come January, I want to see if I can start getting into some running again, so I can be ready for [the] Boston [Marathon], because New York was fun and Boston would be better.”
How many Harvard students manage to squeeze a marathon into their busy schedules? Davis wouldn’t have it any other way.