Trial by water

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December 7, 2006

10:03 PM

If you asked freshman Katie Radloff early last fall about her chances of swimming for the Tribe or any other collegiate program, she might have been hesitant to respond.

p. While Radloff was hopeful of earning a spot on a collegiate swimming roster, her times entering her senior year of high school remained too high for serious consideration. But then something clicked. Always considered a good swimmer, Radloff suddenly started dominating her competition early in the season. Now a hot commodity on the collegiate recruiting market, she only improved more, leading Yorktown High School (Arlington, Va.) to its first-ever Virginia AAA state championship before eventually committing to the College.

p. Fast forward to this fall and Radloff is well on her way to rewriting the swimming record books at the College. In just her first meet as a member of the swim team this October, Radloff broke the school record in the 100-meter freestyle event by two tenths of a second. Awarded CAA Swimmer of the Week honors twice this season, Radloff attributes her sudden turnaround last year to a new and improved attitude.

p. “Before, I was more of just a swimmer because I liked to do it. I didn’t care about my times and the meets I went to as much,” Radloff said. “But I started focusing on improving my times and became more mentally focused. I went to more practices and stepped it up.”

p. Radloff’s club coach of the Arlington Aquatic Club, Evan Stiles, watched her transformation late last fall.

p. “I got her to understand that if you want to be good, that you have to be dedicated and committed and come to practice every day,” Stiles said. “Finally, something just clicked in her. Her freestyle and backstroke times dropped a lot. She figured herself out. A year ago, she was two seconds slower in the 50 free, and five seconds slower in the 100 free.”

p. Soon after it was Tribe Head Coach McGee Moody initiating contact with Radloff, instead of the other way around.

p. “We really started pursuing Katie hard in November of her senior season based on her progress throughout the year,” Moody said. “She is a very technically sound swimmer and when her competition begins to tire and their technique breaks down, that is when she is at her strongest.”

p. Radloff only added to her resume last winter, as she captained Yorktown to a second place finish at the Virginia AAA Northern Region meet, and then the state championship. In addition to anchoring the 200-m freestyle relay team, which set a state record, Radloff finished third in the 50-m freestyle at the state meet.

p. “The impact Katie made in the championship was that she came to me after regionals and said she would like to swim the 50-m freestyle at states” Yorktown Head Coach David Lassiter said. “She promised a top three finish … If Katie had not come to me and asked to swim the 50-m freestyle, we probably would not have been crowned state champions.”

p. Fresh off of leading Yorktown to a state championship, Radloff blew past the competition this fall for the College. At the Terrapin Cup Invitational, she broke a total of 10 school records, both individually and through relay teams. And then, last weekend, she made it to the finals of the 100-m freestyle at the U.S. Open meet.

p. “She hates to lose,” Stiles said. “She’ll get up on the block and go like an animal.”

p. Once a swimmer who skipped practices, leading her coaches to question her dedication, now Radloff is a force to be reckoned with in the pool.

p. “She has stepped up against some of the top sprinters in the country and has performed well,” Moody said. “I truly believe we are just scratching the surface with what she can do.”

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