Former Bishop O’Connell swimmer Kate Ziegler has already punched her ticket to Beijing, and come Thursday, Katie Radloff, a former Yorktown swimmer will get her chance. The current William & Mary star will begin her bid to represent the U.S. Olympic swim team with the preliminaries of the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Thursday in Omaha, Neb.
“I’m just going for my best time,” Radloff said on Tuesday. “There are a lot of fast people here. I’m excited and actually nervous.”
Radloff, the reigning two-time Colonial Athletic Association Swimmer of the Year, is qualified to swim in both the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyles, and could potentially swim for four consecutive days, if she advances through the qualifying rounds.
But the odds are stacked against her, as she’s seeded 81st in the 100-meter freestyle, and 72nd in the 50-meter freestyle.
“She knows it’s a long shot, but at the same time, she knows anything can happen,” said Evan Stiles, her head coach at the Arlington Aquatic Club. “She’s going to see what she can do.”
Radloff qualified for the 100-meter freestyle by swimming 56.92 seconds in the finals of the Speedo Junior National Championships last August. She will need a top-two finish, along with a sub-25.43 time in the 50 free, and a sub-55.24 time in the 100.
“I think [her laid-back personality] helps her in this situation because I don’t think her nerves will be a problem,” Stiles said. “She’s trying to stay as rested as she can and come Thursday, we’ll see what happens.”
<b>AT WILLIAM & MARY</b>, Radloff has the school’s most CAA titles (11), even twice competing at the NCAA Championships. There, she competed in the 50, 100, and 200-yard freestyles, with her top showing coming the 100 freestyle. She owns 26 of the 30 fastest performances in school history, including all 10 in the 100 freestyle and the top nine in the 50 freestyle.
She is the fifth athlete in the 23-year history of the CAA to repeat as Swimmer of the Year, and the first since Old Dominion’s Mary Kay Bolduc won the award four years in a row from 1996-1999.
At the NCAA championships, she placed 34th in the 50 free on the first day and 51st in the 200 free on the second day, breaking her own school and conference records in the 100 free.
At the CAA Championships, she swam anchor on the Tribe’s gold-medal 200 and 400 free relay teams, helping William and Mary take second in the team standings.
During the regular season, Radloff won 21 of 23 races in the three sprinting events, and 25 of 28 overall. The 25 victories was the Tribe’s fourth best in school history.
At Yorktown, Katy Hinkle, Kristen Wolla, Thea Kromer and Radloff set a Northern Region in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 2006. The girls finished in a record 1:36.88, which bettered their National District (1:38.56) time. In the same year, Radloff teamed with the same set to swim a National District meet record in the 200-yard medley relay, finishing in 1:49.51. Radloff also individually has the National District meet record in the 100-yard backstroke (59.16), but was beaten out in 2007 by Katy Hinkle (57.41). Both Radloff and Hinkle, who just finished her freshman year at Harvard University, swam for Stiles at the Arlington Aquatic Club. Even swimming for the Patriots, she said thought she’d ever have the chance at making the Olympic team.
“I had no idea,” Radloff said. “Even my last year, I wasn’t 100 percent certain that I could do it. It’s exciting. The chances of it happening are very slim, so the pressure’s off.”