By Sophie Afdhal
Katie Grant ’15, a member of the F&M women’s swimming program, has represented the College with her strong performance. Grant swims distance freestyle, and, over her two seasons at F&M, she has broken records as well as represented the college at NCAA Championships. Grant began swimming at the age of eight.
“My sister had begun swimming and recommended it,” Grant said. “I watched my sister go to practice, and seeing how much she enjoyed it really made me want to get into swimming.”
When Grant made the decision that she wanted to continue her swimming career into college, she approached which school to pick with a degree of caution.
“When I first came to F&M, I didn’t meet anyone on the team or the coach because I thought it was important to fall in love with the school first,” Grant said. “Once I knew the school was one of my top choices, I came on a recruiting trip in the Fall to get to know the team. I really saw myself fitting in, and the team had a great atmosphere.”
Grant allowed herself the opportunity to find not only a school but a team she loved. Since joining the ranks of the Lady Dips, she has seen both personal and team success.
When asked about her favorite moment as a team, she chose the Centennial Conference Championships last year. Going into the meet, F&M had been ranked as likely to finish fifth place overall in a pre-season poll. The team members wanted to prove themselves that day and ended up finishing third overall.
“Being able to look at the other teams that had doubted us felt good because they had no reason to,” Grant said.
She is also very proud of the team’s record-breaking performance in the 800-freestyle relay.
“We had previously tried to break the record but fell short of our goal,” Grant said. “I was anchor for the relay, and, when I touched the wall and saw that we had broken it, I was so happy. The rest of the team was screaming, and the other three girls in the relay were hugging each other.”
To be able to reach that goal of breaking the record is one of Grant’s favorite team moments. In terms of individual success, Grant qualified and competed in the NCAAs in Texas last year. It had been a goal of Grant’s in college that she fell short of her freshman year, leaving her very disappointed.
“After I fell short of my goal, I immediately got back into the pool and started training,” Grant said. “I qualified for NCAAs last December, and being able to compete with some of the best swimmers in the country was an amazing experience.”
Grant performed well at the NCAAs and received All-American status. When asked about her overall experience on the team, she had nothing but good memories to share.
“We really are a family,” she said. “It’s great being part of a team where men and women compete together. People often joke that you only see swimmers with swimmers, but when you train together for five hours a day, you just get so close to these people.”
Grant has also formed a great bond with her coaches, head coach Ben Delia and assistant coach Elliot Scymanski. Delia served his first year as coach during Grant’s freshman season.
“Initially I was nervous about it being his first year, but it turned out great,” Grant said. “He and I sat down to make a training plan and talk about my goals for what I want to accomplish. He’s very willing to work with me and change the plan as we need to. The coaches are hands down the two best coaches I’ve had the chance to work with.”
Scymanski was a swimmer with Grant her freshman year.
“He knows us as a coach and a fellow swimmer,” Grant said. “He’s very good at the mental side and keeping us calm. He knows what its like to be a swimmer.”
The F&M swim team is off to a strong start thus far this season. The team has played Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College in Conference play and is currently undefeated in Conference play.
“We’re training harder than we ever have been,” Grant said. “It’s been hard and painful, but Winter Invitational is next week, and teams from in and out of the conference will be coming. Everyone is getting pumped up and excited. We’re ready to show off our hard work.”
Junior Sophie Afdhal is the Associate Sports Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.