By Sophie Afdhal || Sports Editor
To the loyal readers of the College Reporter Sports section, the name Katie Grant ’15 should be a familiar one. For four years, her excellence has led the Diplomats swim program in the pool and this year, has led them out of the pool as one of the co-captains.
This year, Grant’s continued and exceeded her past performance but not with the same ease as in the previous years.
“I found out in November that I was injured,” said Grant, “What had happened was two disks fused together in my spine and caused thoracic outlet syndrome and bone spurs. This was something I was born with but due to swimming, it manifested much earlier than it would have.”
Grant was instructed by doctors to take five weeks out of the pool for rest. Sitting on the sidelines could not have been easy for her, but she occupied her time with strength and conditioning training until she could get back into the pool. This time out of the pool gave her a chance to help build the team. Women’s swimming has a very young team this year as of the 24 girls, only 2 are seniors and the bulk are first-years and sophomores.
“The beginning of the season was a learning process but we have a very talented team and the regular season went well,” said Grant.
This is likely due to her co-leadership with fellow senior Mary Ann Robison. “Being a co-captain was a big honor and we did team elections,” said Grant, “[Robison and I] have been working together since last spring to build a team that feels all-inclusive for the first-years to come into. It can be intimidating walking on to a team where you know no one but they did a great job assimilating and becoming Diplomats.”
The cohesion achieved in the women’s team also extended to their relationship with the men. Robison and Grant, along with male captains Steve Latka and Rich Denton, worked to unite the men’s and women’s team.
“We have always been close as men’s and women’s teams but this is the most cohesive I’ve ever seen us,” said Grant, “During meets it wasn’t men’s or women’s, it was one team battling together. It helps to have the whole senior class be very close so we hoped it would trickle down and positively affect the rest of the team.”
When Grant was able to get back in the pool, it didn’t take long for her to reach her regular standard of performance. Last week the team’s home meet against Gettysburg College. Grant swam the 1000 free, the 100 free, 400 free relay and the 1000 free was both her season best and one of the fastest of her career. The goal of the team was to go into the home meet and do their best and irrespective of her personal success, Grant felt they achieved that goal.
The team is now building to next week’s Centennial Conference Championships at Gettysburg. Grant will be swimming the 1650 free, 500 free, 200 free, 400 free relay, 800 relay, and 400 medley relay over the course of the three day championships.
When Grant was asked about her plans for the next few weeks and going forward with her swim career, she was very humble.
“After the injury, all of my plans changed,” said Grant, “I didn’t think I’d get back in the water so the fact that I did is an accomplishment in itself. In terms of team goals, we would love to take a women’s relay to Nationals and individually, I would love to qualify for NCAAs but after my injury and taking a month off I understand that may not happen. Anything that happens at champs will be exciting as I thought I was done a couple months ago. It will be a great way to finish off my senior season.”
As her final season winds down, the reality begins to set in after four years of great performances that it’s almost time to leave. When asked what her favorite memory might be, Grant paused to consider them all before settling on an important moment from this season. She swam her first distance event back from her injury, a 500, at Dickinson College. But the highlight was not the event, but the aftermath.
“Afterwards, I had one of our first-year swimmers come up and congratulate me,” said Grant, “She then told me that was the first time she had seen me in my element and now she understands why I was such a force to be reckoned with in this conference and how lucky she felt that she had gotten to see me swim distance. It’s one of the things I will remember most out of my four years, being able to swim distance again and then to have a new swimmer say something so mature and meaningful. I’m sure she didn’t realize how much that meant to me but hearing her say that on pool deck, I almost burst into tears. That memory sums up my four years perfectly.”
And what a four years they have been for Grant. It has been a thrill to watch her accomplishments and see her growth and we wish her the best of luck at Conferences and going forward.
Senior Sophie Afdhal is the Sports Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Sophie Afdhal.