Swimming wasn’t always the perfect sport for Allison Henry.
And it wasn’t because she wasn’t good at it.
Henry is a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School and she’s currently one of the top swimmers in the state. But when she was in kindergarten, she didn’t love the sport for one reason.
“I was afraid of the horn,” said a laughing Henry. “I didn’t come back until they went to the beeps. The air horn scared me. It’s a funny story, that’s why I talk about it, but when that was gone, I came back.”
It’s a good thing they went away from the air horn because Henry went back to the sport and now she’s tearing it up.
Also a club swimmer with NRG Swimming, the Bensalem native has been one of the top swimmers in the Catholic League since arriving at Ryan. Last year, she placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke and fifth n the 200 freestyle at the Pennsylvania 3A state championship. This was a year after placing sixth in the 100 breast and 12th in the 100 butterfly during her sophomore campaign.
Her efforts got her more than medals.
She recently signed to swim next year at the University of Nebraska.
“Nebraska was the perfect place, when I visited, I just felt like I belonged there,” Henry said. “I liked everything about it. The people was the biggest thing, and they show great support for their student-athletes, I really liked that.. But it’s also a great school and I’m happy to swim in the Big Ten.”
The Cornhuskers are happy to have her, too.
Nebraska isn’t just getting a great swimmer, which is evident by her times and finishes at the biggest meets of the calendar, but it’s getting a quality person away from the pool. In fact, Henry does more out of the water than she does in it.
“When they announced I was coming, they talked about what I’ve done in the breaststroke,” Henry said. “But I do everything and I think they like my versatility.”
She’s just as versatile when dry.
A top student in the classroom, Henry is also involved in many extracurricular activities including Athletes Helping Athletes and the Health Careers Club. Both are right up her alley, but the latter will likely help her gain valuable experience for her future career.
“That was a great experience because they give you hands-on experience at a hospital,” said Henry, who wants to major in premed or psychology. “It was very helpful. We spent one shift in the emergency room and another in post-op. We couldn’t do surgery, the operating room, because we only had 45 minutes, but I learned a lot.”
Those 45-minute shifts will likely pay off when she’s at Nebraska studying to get a job in the medical field. It’s a job she always knew she wanted.
“When I was younger, we had to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up and I drew a picture of me as a nurse,” Henry said. “That would be following in my dad’s footsteps. I just want to do something where I’m able to help people. That’s a job that I’ve always seen myself doing, so I think it’s what I want to do.”
Henry is also happy with what she does with Athletes Helping Athletes, where Ryan students are partnered up with special-needs athletes to do fun activities.
“My friend Megan Kidd started it, and it’s really a great program,” Henry said. “I saw what they were doing and I wanted to help. I love it. It’s great. This year, I’m on the board. I just like doing it, helping everyone have fun.”
While Athletes Helping Athletes is fun, Henry is always ready to put in work, and that will continue next year. She knows college will require a lot of work, especially if she’s going to swim against the tough competition in the Big Ten.
She knows it’s going to be a challenge. She also knows it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Henry said. “When I was really young, swimming at a high level was always a dream. But I worked really hard, and then it went from being a dream to a goal. And now it’s a reality.
“I’m excited and scared, but more excited. I know this is a great school for me. I love everything about it and I think it’s going to be great.”
While Henry is excited about heading to Nebraska, she also admits she’ll miss a lot about home.
“I’m definitely going to miss my family, my friends and my dog (Tucker, a yellow lab),” Henry said. “I talked to my coach, and he told me and my parents that I could come home three times a year, and that’s good. I’m glad technology has advanced that I can see my family and Tucker.”
Technology isn’t the only thing that’s come a long way.
Henry certainly has a lot of talent, but she credits her success to more than just ability.
“I think the best advice I could give someone is to never give up or stop working hard for what you want,” Henry said. “And faith is a huge part of my success. I take my religion really seriously. Faith and hope leads to success.”
And the ability to overcome the fear of air horns to be an elite athlete.