Team bonds usher success: Kate Edison swims to Connecticut College

November 24, 2021


Srinithi Raj

Kate Edison competes in the freestyle in a WA Swim Team Meet

Fully clothed coaches and sopping wet swimmers jumped into a pool to celebrate their final swimmer’s winning lap. But, no one saw the sleepover she had to miss the previous night to practice for the meet. 

Such community has enriched Kate Edison’s high school experience despite the rigor of competitive swimming. After years of diligence, these bonds with camaraderie have culminated in Kate Edison’s swim commitment to Connecticut College. 

Growing up in an athletic family, Kate Edison was exposed to a plethora of sports from a young age. Especially since her family loved swimming both recreationally and competitively, her familiarity with the waves ushered her to pick up swimming lessons. She started swimming competitively ever since she was five years old, and continued since. 

“You name any sport and my siblings and I have tried it. My family grew up going to the beach every summer and me and my siblings were practically raised in the water,” Kate Edison said. 

Although she loved the waters, swimming wasn’t something Kate Edison wanted to participate in seriously until seventh grade. After having been active in many school sports, she made the decision to concentrate solely on swimming in middle school, working hard to hone her talents. 

In high school, her dedication paid off. In all three years of high school before starting the college recruiting process, the Boston Globe named her as an “All-Scholastic Athlete.” 

Nevertheless, as soon as Kate Edison began to take up swimming much more seriously, she soon learned of the physical and mental preparation it takes to perform at such a high level. She trains for at least two hours daily for at least five days, while competition seasons require her to train for longer hours. Mentally, she has found it difficult at times to refrain from comparing herself to other athletes and struggling with the idea of whether or not she is good enough, but trusting in her abilities has allowed her to alleviate the pressure. 

From missing sleepovers to school events, Kate Edison has had to make tough decisions as a teenager to excel in her sport. In order to attain her fullest potential, prioritizing swimming and adapting to the demanding nature of competitive swimming has made it difficult for her to balance her social and athletic life. 

“Waking at 4 a.m. to swim has become routine for her and she will swim when she is tired, on a day off, in bad weather, or while everyone else is sleeping in,” Kate’s mother Ellen Edison said. 

Especially when it comes to facing losses, Kate Edison stresses how mentality shifts have helped her take negative outcomes into positive learning experiences, a trait Ellen Edison believes is characteristic to her daughter. 

“Her confidence is evident on the swim blocks right before some of her biggest races. She has the ability to remain calm and focused on what’s next,” Ellen Edison said. 

While mental and physical training may remain unseen to most people, her success is well-known. With that glory comes the struggle of meeting those constant expectations and facing the fear of letting those people down, but these very people are the ones who have inspired Kate Edison to keep pushing herself, namely her parents. 

“My parents have been the biggest supporters in allowing me to swim all these years. They’ve helped me get all the outside practice and meet opportunities that I can so I can pursue my swimming career,” Kate Edison said. 

Her past experiences have shaped her into the swimmer she is today. A driving inspiration for her, Kate Edison expresses the gratitude she has toward figures like late Coach Jeff Johnson for supplementing swim classes with life lessons from the pool. 

“Coach Johnson taught me to be the hardest working person in the pool and to go after my goals because only you know your capability and can achieve whatever you put your mind to. I miss Coach Johnson every day and I dedicate all my wins to him,” Kate Edison said. 

Echoing Johnson and rising above hurdles, Kate Edison believes that the main reason why she continues to swim is because of the bonds she has fostered. For her, creating these shared experiences that her and her team will forever remember is what makes the experience more fulfilling. 

“I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know my teammates over the years in both club and high school swimming and it’s been a blast. I’ve come to know so many great people and having your best friends be with you during hard practices or big meets is such a treat that makes the sport that much more worth it.” Kate Edison said. 

Reflecting on her experiences and hoping to find a school that would equilibrate athletic and academic pursuits with opportunities to make such connections at her new school, Kate Edison felt that Connecticut College would be the best place for her ever since her first call with the university’s swim coach. Kate Edison plans to start her first semester undecided, but she hopes to dive into the pre-med track and explore women studies whilst swimming with the university. 

Outside of the pool and the classroom, Kate Edison believes as though the qualities she has gained through her experiences have also made her a better individual. Factors such as endurance that she has gained from competition translate into academics in that being a senior, some students decide to take it easy and coast to the finish line, while Kate Edison has decided to do the exact opposite. Like swimming the very end of a lane, she continues to challenge herself academically, while still being mindful of taking the time to grow her team bonds. 

“I have had the chance to learn many valuable lessons such as responsibility, inclusivity, and how to have fun,” Kate Edison said. “I’ve learned how to include everyone on a team through spending so much time with everyone and I’ve learned how to be a part of a community and do my part to keep everyone happy and in good spirits.”

Paralleling this priority to foster bonds and in addition to her heavy sports commitments, Kate Edison still manages to find time to help other students reach their goals and pose as an inspiration to them. In the words of her coach Caitlin Klick-McHugh, Kate Edison’s growth has led her to evolve into a leader on the team. 

“Kate’s confidence is contagious. She doesn’t shy away from leading, whether it is moving to the front of the lane in practice or trying a hard event at meets,” Klick-McHugh said.

Not only has KateEdison’s contagious ethic helped her grow, it has also inspired others to emulate her passion toward the sport. Specifically at last year’s DCL meet, Klick-McHugh cites how Kate Edison persevered in a difficult stroke and created a record that motivated other teammates. 

“She had the whole team up on their feet, and since this was the first event of the meet, it set the tone for the whole meet,” Klick-McHugh said. 

Reflecting on her time at WA, Kate Edison thanks the skills, experiences, and community she has gained through swimming. 

“Swimming in itself is a very different sport in the sense that, to put it frankly, everyone’s tightly packed on a pool deck, half naked in bathing suits, sopping wet with towels around our waists. […] It is such an important part of my life, and emotions wise it helps me focus away from stressful things in my life,” Kate Edison said.

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