Staff Writer

For most people, there is no feeling more satisfying than looking up at the scoreboard and seeing your team post a victory.

Swimmer Katherine DeCrosta ’12 has a different definition of winning. That’s not to say that DeCrosta doesn’t love to win meets, but she her love of swimming transcends merely winning.

“Winning is fantastic,” DeCrosta said, “but what gets me in and out of the water every day is knowing that we have 50 people who are 100 percent dedicated and come to every single practice and competition, and I know that as long as we continue to do that, we’ve already won.”

Fortunately for DeCrosta and the rest of the F&M women’s swimming team, there’s plenty of room for both. In her career at F&M, DeCrosta has humbly earned medals at the conference championships in all three of her years on the team. This year, she has finished first on multiple occasions in both individual events and relays. With conference championships coming up next weekend, the Diplomats are looking to strike gold for the first time since 2009, DeCrosta’s sophomore year.

DeCrosta fondly remembers the highlight of her F&M swimming career, which took place two years ago at that championship meet, and is hoping to re-live that same day a week from now.

“It was the final event, on the last day of the meet, the 400-meter freestyle. All we had to do was finish the relay without getting disqualified and we would win the championship.”

DeCrosta remembers holding her breath, waiting for that sweet moment of victory.

“I remember watching Ana Franzluebbers ‘13 finish and my arms flew up,” DeCrosta said.

This season, the team has lost only one dual meet and will travel to face the Gettysburg Bullets in the upcoming conference championships. It will be the last time that DeCrosta will put on her Diplomats uniform.

“What I’m hoping for is that the team will believe how good we are, and that we’ll be able to go into Gettysburg’s pool and make it our house.”

But what really drives DeCrosta to love the sport so much? Why swimming and not any other sport?

When she was six years old, DeCrosta spontaneously jumped into a swim lesson at her local pool and began swimming on a team that very first year. She had tried balancing gymnastics and swimming, but when asked to choose, she immediately left gymnastics behind.

“I guess people consider swimmers a different breed because we keep our heads underwater and don’t talk much during practice,” DeCrosta said. “I just love being able to do something where I can try hard and know I have my team supporting me every step of the way.”

This is where DeCrosta developed her attitude towards the team, and the reason she appreciates what her teammates do every single practice and meet. It’s also one of the main reasons why DeCrosta chose F&M.

Upon first impression, DeCrosta wasn’t impressed when she visited F&M. She had many of the usual skepticisms. It’s too small; it’s in middle-of-nowhere Amish country; it’s boring. But she still gave it a chance. DeCrosta visited and stayed the night, meeting the members of the team, sitting in on classes and exploring the campus. When it came time to leave, DeCrosta had been swayed.

“The team was so welcoming to someone they didn’t even know. They stood for so much more than just a swim team.”

When DeCrosta got back in the car, she looked at her father and said, “Dad, I’m going here.”

And now in her fourth year here at F&M, DeCrosta couldn’t be happier.

“There’s a lot of people who do sports to win,” she said. “But no matter what place I come in, I think it’s more important to support your teammates, and know that you’re supported by them.”

When she isn’t winning races and training at F&M, DeCrosta still spends her free time in the pool. In high school, she worked for an organization called “Nadar Por Vida.” While most teenagers are out and about on a Friday night, DeCrosta spent her nights working with local at-risk children, emphasizing the benefits of athletics in their lives and helping to keep them out of gangs and away from substance abuse.

During the summers, it’s more of the same for DeCrosta. The senior captain shares her love of swimming by coaching kids ranging from ages 4-18. This year, DeCrosta is trying to bring something like “Nadar Por Vida” to F&M, and hopes that the rest of the team can take her idea and make it into a reality.

Even though next weekend will be the last time DeCrosta will compete at the collegiate level, she doesn’t plan on leaving swimming behind altogether. Not surprisingly, DeCrosta wants to share with others the sport she has loved and enjoyed her whole life. Following her career at F&M, DeCrosta plans to attend graduate school and eventually become a special education elementary school teacher. Once a teacher, DeCrosta has aspirations to create some sort of program or organization through which she can coalesce her love of swimming and teaching, and help special needs youth learn to swim.

“I want to come up with some kind of program to help people succeed at something they wouldn’t normally be able to do, or at least have some fun.”

Throughout her life, DeCrosta’s optimism has helped her succeed in and out of the swimming pool. Growing up, she struggled with thyroid problems. Forced to take a year off from swimming, DeCrosta tried to find other hobbies to occupy her time. The moment she was cleared to swim again, she jumped right back in the pool.

“I missed swimming so much during that time,” DeCrosta said. “You know when you’re doing something and you get that rush, that feeling like, ‘this is where I belong.’ That’s what I have when I’m swimming.”