Age: 17

High school: Coral Springs Charter School

College: Florida Gulf Coast

Katherine Kealty followed in her mother’s footsteps and started swimming when she was nine years old.

“She was a swimmer when she was a kid and told me it was great so I said ‘okay, sure.’

“I really liked it and made a ton of friends,” Kealty said. “When you think about morning practice you don’t want to go at all, but once you get there and you’re with your friends, it’s not so bad.”

Kealty’s mom, Carolyn, a national-caliber racewalker and 2004 and 2008 Olympic trials qualifier, continues to inspire her oldest daughter.

“My mom is a big inspiration,” Kealty said. “I see her dying out there in practice, working in the hot sun. When I don’t want to go to a practice or a meet, I think of her sticking with it and I say to myself if she does it, I can do swimming. I really look up to her.”

Kealty always made time for swimming despite her extracurricular activities that included Student Government, junior class president, Key Club, drama, chorous and flag football.

“I liked swimming but I did other things,” Kealty said. “I had a life, it wasn’t swimming 24-7. If I had to miss practice a day or two, they were cool.”

Kealty said she managed her busy schedule around swimming.

“Swimming taught me time management,” Kealty said. “I worked around swimming. I had fun with it and all my friends.”

The atmosphere on the pool deck at practice and meets helped to motivate Kealty.

“Everyone cheers for you and made it fun,” said Kealty, who competed in the 50 and 100 freestyle events and 50 breaststroke. “I got some great workouts in and I liked to be competitive, too. You look around and see swimmers like Vlad and Dara and you’re swimming in the same pool as them. That was the coolest.

“I think the best moment for me was all the friends I made. These are friends I will have for life.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Author: South Florida Aquatic Club - SOFLO Swimming

Welcome to the South Florida Aquatic club, a premier community swim team dedicated to providing opportunity and encouragement to all team members, from the beginner to the seasoned Olympic athlete in their pursuit of excellence. The year-round development program for competitive swimming features life-enhancing qualities including integrity, discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship and health and fitness. We invite you to navigate the club’s portal for information about the team.

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