AKRON – The willingness to be versatile has afforded Olivia Livengood the opportunity to pursue a dream.
Livengood, a senior at Tippecanoe Valley, signed her National Letter of Intent Wednesday to continue her swimming career with Bethel University. Surrounded by family members in the Valley gym, Livengood joined coach Deb Thompson’s second recruiting class.
Willing to swim any discipline, Livengood’s penchant for the individual medley was what stuck out to Thompson, who is currently guiding Bethel’s brand new swim program in its first year. Livengood has had success in the event this season, and is gunning for the school record of 2:20.79, an 18-year standard at Valley. The 1:02.35 in the butterfly is a 32-year-old record Livengood is also aiming to change, and that determination has sparked Thompson’s interest. Livengood’s senior season times are already at what her sectional times were last February.
“The biggest thing for Olivia is that she is willing to work hard,” said Thompson, who started her swim coaching career at Tippecanoe Valley in the early 1980s. “Being from a small school, you don’t have always have that happen. Especially if it’s a young team or a team that isn’t quite at the level she’s at. And she works hard. But I’ve also told her she has a tremendous amount of potential she hasn’t even found yet. In four years of college swimming, she can be so much better. She has the potential to be an outstanding college swimmer.”
Livengood has been a jack-of-all-trades swimmer for coach Tom Alexander’s Valley squad. As a junior, Livengood was a top three in the fly at the Three Rivers Conference meet and was a consolation champion in both the fly and IM at the Warsaw Sectional.
“Coach Thompson was very open and came to me early on and showed some faith in me,” Livengood said just before her signing. “They are a new program and swim at a great facility (the Elkhart Aquatic Center), and they have the potential to do a lot.
“My senior year seems to be going pretty good. I’m open to anything. If coach puts me in any event, I feel like I can do it. That’s where I seem to thrive at, being open to do whatever. I think that’s why coach Thompson came after me.”
Livengood looks to study kinesiology at Bethel with the hopes to become an athletic trainer.
“I really feel like Bethel is a good fit,” Livengood said. “My main focus if I could pick one would be the 200 IM because Bethel doesn’t have one right now, and I’m an IM’er. So I feel like I can fit in there right away and help.”