Curl-Burke Swim Club standout Kaitlin Pawlowicz, 16, didn’t get a chance to represent her country last summer; she missed the cut for the Olympic trials. But in May she was able to swim for the United States at the Mel Zajac Jr. invitational in Vancouver, B.C. She was one of two Washington-area swimmers competing on the U.S. junior team – Matthew Benecki from the McLean, Va.-based FISH team was the other – and she finished 12th in the 200-meter fly.
In the first of what will be a weekly feature with a local swimmer, meet Kaitlin Pawlowicz.
1. What do you consider your biggest accomplishment in swimming? I would consider my biggest accomplishment the trip I made recently to Vancouver because I got to represent the U.S. and score some points for our country.
2. How old were you when you started swimming? About 5.
3. How did you get started in swimming? I believe I started with summer league actually. I think my parents kind of started me on it, because my dad was a swimmer. But then I really started to like it so I did it by myself.
4. What drives you to make all the sacrifices that come with competitive swimming? Probably wanting to be successful in the sport.
5. What swimmers do you admire? Natalie Coughlin is one of them. Michael Phelps, even though he has done some things that aren’t good, he has accomplished a lot in the sport and that’s cool and interesting.
6. What are your ultimate goals? I’m hoping to make Olympic trials in 2012 because they changed the cuts and I think they made them faster. They haven’t put them out yet but as soon as they do that will be one of my goals to make trials.
7. Obviously swimming takes up a lot of time. How do you de-stress when you’re out of the pool? I really don’t have a lot of time to stop. Swimming isn’t really stressful for me. The time I am stress-free is when I am swimming. It just actually kind of helps me be less stressed.
8. How do you balance swimming with school? I have practice right after school every day from 2:30 to 5:30. Normally as soon as I get home from swim practice I try to get my work done from that day.
9. How do you like swimming with the USA National team? I really, really enjoy it. Meeting a ton of new people and then seeing some familiar faces that I did know. And then representing the U.S. was a big thing for me and I thought that was so cool.
10. What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to experience as a result of swimming? Again, my trip to Vancouver was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve experienced.
11. What is your least favorite thing to practice? When we have to do our race sets.
12. What’s the best advice a coach ever gave you? Our coach always says “PRIDE.” Which says, Personal Responsibility in Daily Effort.
13. Do you have any pre-swim rituals? I don’t actually really have any. I do listen to my iPod sometimes. In between prelims and finals, if I’m close to home I usually get Subway, but nothing else really.
14. Can you describe your training regimen? During the summer I swim Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning for three hours. Tuesday and Thursday in the afternoon for two hours and 45 minutes.
15. If you had to pick another sport besides swimming, what would it be and why? Maybe I would pick lacrosse. I’m not very good at any land sports, really. I don’t even know if I didn’t swim if I would play another sport.
16. What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to overcome? In 2008 we had the Olympic trials and I was trying to make my trial cut up until right before and I didn’t make it and that was really hard for me because I really wanted to go and a lot of my friends I swim with made the cut. And it was really hard for me to see them go and I had to stay home. It was definitely hard for me and I just thought about it in a positive way that everything happens for a reason and hopefully I can make finals in 2012.
17. Do you have a favorite stroke? Butterfly.
18. What’s your favorite vacation destination? I haven’t been to many places out of the country, but I do really like Florida. Which isn’t outside the country, but I do like Florida.
19. What do you want your career to be? I actually really don’t know. I’ve always thought about a doctor, plastic surgery, something like that. But that’s just some ideas of what I like.
20. If you could challenge anyone in history to a race in the pool, who would it be? Probably Michael Phelps, even though he would probably win it would definitely be cool to say I swam against Michael Phelps.