Not only has Dana Purdy ’13 set multiple school records, she also saves lives. Her work as an Emergency Medical Assistant and lifeguard give her the opportunity to use her skills from the water to help others.
A biology major with a minor in mathematics, Purdy is working to be a physician’s assistant, wanting “to have a family but still work in a hospital and have that intensity of working in medicine.”
“I’ve always aspired to help other people, which is why I think I want to work in an [emergency room],” she said. Purdy has already received basic certification to work as an Emergency Medical Technician.
“When I worked as an EMT, I saw this really bad car crash victim who had an eye injury,” Purdy said. “At first, you couldn’t make out half of his face, and an hour later he was sitting up and reading. That’s what I love about the ER. Out of chaos there is an organized atmosphere, and you can actually see how medicine helps people.”
Purdy also uses her skills as a swimmer, spending her free time over the summer working as a lifeguard in West Hampton, NY. “My first summer as a lifeguard I made over 70 rescues,” she said. “There is really bad riptides in that area, so we have to really pay attention.”
In mid-July, she will compete in the ocean lifeguard championships.
Purdy is just as impressive when the focus is solely on swimming. At the Patriot League Championships in February, she placed sixth in the 100m-breaststroke with a time of 1:05.41, setting a new school record. She then went on to place 10th in the 200m-breaststroke, almost breaking the school record set in 2004.
Purdy also swam the breaststroke for the 200m and 400m medley relay teams, which placed third and fifth respectively.
Each team set a new school record.
“My first club coach said, when I was only five, ‘Oh this girl is going to be a breaststroker,'” Purdy said. “By freshman year of high school, I totally committed to breaststroke. It’s definitely my best event.”
Purdy has her younger sister to thank for sparking her interest in the sport. When her younger sister broke her arm, doctors recommended swimming as physical therapy. Purdy volunteered to join her sister at the swimming lessons, where both girls realized their passion for swimming. They grew up swimming on the same club and high school teams.
Both currently compete in the Patriot League, Purdy at Lafayette, and her younger sister at Bucknell. “She has always been faster than me,” Purdy said of her younger sister. “So we have some healthy competition.”
While some athletes enjoy time to themselves before their race or game, Purdy enjoys feeding off her teammates’ energy to focus on her own upcoming race. “Personally, cheering on my other teammates gets me pumped up,” Purdy said. “I don’t use music as a pump up because my favorite is country music, and that doesn’t really get you pumped up.”
Even though she only has one year left of swimming at Lafayette, Purdy doesn’t expect her days in athletic competition to be over anytime soon. “I think I will become a competitive tri-athlete when I graduate. I hope to do an ironman competition when I’m older. That’s one of my lifetime goals.”
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