By Mark Rossman, Senior Staff ||
Katie Grant ’15 competed in the NCAA Championships in the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind. March 19-22, swimming against some of the best collegiate swimmers in the nation.
Grant competed in the 500, 1650, and 200-yard freestyle and finished with a time of 5:07.27 in the preliminary 500, 1:54.73 in the preliminary 200, and 17:15.07 in the 1650, finishing 17th in the nation.
“Swimming with some of the nation’s best is incredible but it gets hard at times to keep my confidence up when I’m surrounded by that caliber of swimmer,” Grant said.
“The weeks leading up to nationals my coaches would just tell me to ‘act like I belonged’ and by doing this it would help keep my mind calm and my confidence up. It’s a lot easier said than done. NCAA’s is for sure a learning experience and these past two years have proved that…but third time’s a charm!”
Traveling all the way to Indianapolis, Ind. on ones own and competing against the best swimmers in the nation is something unlike almost all of us can even imagine.
“I have to say NCAAs is the most thrilling yet terrifying experiences I have ever been a part of. It is unlike anything else which is probably what makes it so overwhelming,” Grant said.
It takes a few days to settle into the environment, get used to the pool and get comfortable competing on the national level. It is a huge honor and getting the chance to represent F&M makes it even more
Grant admits one of the hardest parts about NCAA’s is not having her teammates there with her.
“I would say one of the hardest parts of competing at NCAA’s is not having my teammates to share the experience with,” Grant said.
Their support from back home is incredible but walking around pool deck and not having any teammates there really took a toll on me this year. Teams such as Kenyon and Emory have their entire rosters at the meet and everyone’s cheering for them and there’s tons of their parents in the stands.”
Unlike last year when Grant qualified for NCAA’s early in December, Grant came close to not making it to NCAA’s this year.
“I think making it back to NCAA’s this year meant much more to me than it did to qualify last year,” Grant said. “My sophomore year I qualified in December for NCAA’s and this year I had to wait until champs to see whether or not my swims would be fast enough to make it to the national stage. This season started out pretty rough and I hit a lot of bumps along the way so when I actually made it there was a greater sense of accomplishment. I thought qualifying the first time would be the hardest part and that it would get easier each time but this season proved that is not the case.”
Grant has had a great season for herself, earning a bronze in the 200-yard freestyle at the Centennial Conference Championships and gold in the 500 with a time of 4:59.49.
When asked who Grant would thank for all her successes, she had a difficult time determing just who to thank.
“It’s always hard for me to pinpoint who I’d like to thank for my successes in swimming because the truth is, it’s a culmination of years, experience, and coaches who have helped me get to the level I’m at now,” Grant said.
I can easily tell you though that without my F&M coaches, Ben and Eliot, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have. There’s a stigma in the world of swimming that you peak in high school and don’t get much faster in your college years.”
Grant was set on not letting that happen and continuing her growth as a player.
“Coming into college I did not want that to be the case and swore I would do whatever it took to be the best swimmer I could possibly be by the time my 4 years came to a close,” she said. “Ben and Eliot have worked with me non-stop to make this dream come true and have helped me to accomplish every goal I have set, no matter how big.”
When asked what motivates her, she had an easier time answering that question.
“I would say I get my motivation from always wanting to be better. Even after I accomplish a goal I immediately start working toward the next one. This can also be one of my greatest downfalls as I have difficulty taking time to enjoy the feeling of a dream coming true but at the same time, the constant drive, keeps me motivated and on track.”
Grant’s season is over this year, and she will return next year for her final season as a senior on the F&M women’s swim team. As for this year, she has a lot to look back on and be proud of.
Senior Mark Rossman is Senior Staff . His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.