Birthday: April 14, 1997
Hometown: Greenville, SC
School: University of Arizona, Graduate Student at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
-Part of 2017 World Record Setting 200 Medley Relay in Windsor
-Placed 5th in the 50 free at 2016 Olympic Trials
-Top Ten NCAA individual finisher
-Three-time All-American (200 free relay, 200 medley relay, and 400 medley relay)
– CSCAA Scholar All-America honoree (2016-18)
It starts with the Olympic Trials “ready room.” Elite swimmers across the country see it every day in their visualizations, focusing in on every detail, hearing the stifled roar of the chaos beyond. Emerging onto the national stage is the penultimate step, where the arena envelops them in its energy before the metallic voice of the starter echoes across the deck.
One might think that this is the most nerve-wracking moment of a young swimmer’s career, but that wasn’t the case for Katrina Konopka.
“My biggest ‘aha moment’ was at 2016 Olympic Trials before the 50 freestyle. I was walking from the ready room to behind the blocks, when suddenly, I wasn’t nervous anymore. I realized that swimming was just a game, and that whatever happened when I walked out on that pool deck did not determine my own self-worth. I had incredible confidence in myself, which ultimately led me to being a member of the National team and on a World Record setting relay. I was able to take that confidence into my daily life, and it has helped me not only grow as an athlete, but also as a student and person.”
This holistic view has shaped Katrina’s entire career, seeping into her coaching style as she takes her talents to the deck.
“I am partnered with Fitter and Faster because I recognize how big of an impact a coach can have on a swimmer, even if they only see them for a weekend. Its amazing to be able to recognize the talents of each swimmer, and help swimmers achieve their goals.”
“Recognizing the talents of each swimmer” is perhaps Katrina’s biggest strength. Adopting a method in which she assesses each swimmer individually, Katrina hopes to coach the “whole person.” Not only does she diagnose technical issues, but she also addresses each participant’s strong points when offering critiques. Paying close attention to the athlete’s responsiveness to certain drills and demonstrations, Katrina seeks to gain an understanding of their learning style, adjusting her delivery to meet those specific needs. With Katrina, the learner is the center of the clinic.
“Everyone has something that makes them unique, and it is my goal to use those individual characteristics to help each swimmer reach their full potential.”
That being said, Katrina certainly doesn’t underestimate her influence as a teacher.
“As I have grown into the sport of swimming, I have recognized the importance of a coach’s direction and feedback. In being exposed to very patient and supportive coaches, I have learned a lot of new skills. Sometimes, those skills have been difficult to pick up on at first, and it may have taken a few different explanations before I was able to incorporate it into my stroke. I strive to be a coach who can recognize that each swimmer learns differently, and be ready to describe skills in a way for swimmers to best understand them.”
Emphasizing the importance of body awareness and streamlines, Katrina hopes to help swimmers tap into all the free speed that technique has to offer. Under her tutelage, swimmers will learn a few simple fixes that can “set up their entire race for success,” while being understanding the value of mindfulness in the sport.
Convincing her participants that “no dream is too big,” Katrina hopes to instill a love for swimming that lasts far beyond competition.
“Swimming is not just about going best times and making cuts; it’s about the people you meet along the way who can end up being your best life-long friends.”
Try a fun and holistic approach to competitive swimming. Sign up for a clinic with Katrina today!