By Sharon Robb
September 6, 2015—At 14, Kathleen Golding already has her first U.S. Olympic Trials cut.
The South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer is still pinching herself after accomplishing the feat at such a young age.
On the final night of the USA Swimming Futures Championships in West Lafayette, Ind., Golding won the 200-meter individual medley in a lifetime-best 2:18.67, making the Trials standard.
Golding first bettered her 200 IM previous best of 2:21.43 in prelims in 2:20.39 and bettered it in finals. Golding also won the 400 IM in a best time 4:55.80.
“I am still kind of in shock that I made it,” said the talented 5-foot-7 athlete. “I am just happy I made my Olympic Trials cut.
“I thought I was going to make it in the 400 IM so when I didn’t I wasn’t expecting to make it in the 200 IM. It was my last race of the meet. I just felt like I gave it everything I had. It’s exciting I made it. I can’t wait to go to Trials. I want to try and do as well as I can. I would love to make semis.”
The U.S. Olympic Trials will take place June 26-July 3 at the CenturyLink Center Omaha (Neb.). More than 2,000 swimmers have already qualified.
Golding has plenty of meets lined up over the next few months to hone her skills as well as try and get that 400 IM trials cut.
“I am excited about the future,” she said. “I definitely want to make it in the 400 IM.”
Golding rates the Futures Meet as her best meet with sectionals, where she got her junior nationals cut, rates a close second.
Golding, at 13, participated in the USA Swimming Southern Zone Select Camp last year at the University of Louisville.
Initially, her future was going to be in gymnastics. But the program she was involved with closed its doors so at age 8 she turned to swimming.
“At first I didn’t want to be on a swim team, I just wanted to do lessons,” Golding said.
Golding started at the Concord YMCA in New Hampshire. Then she joined the Manchester (N.H.) Swim Team and swam for five years.
At 13, Golding and her family moved to South Florida and joined the South Florida Aquatic Club where she has been blossoming ever since. She is also joined by her siblings Molly and Alex. Alex’s twin sister Sally started out swimming but now runs and does gymnastics.
“I love Florida, there is really good swimming here,” Golding said.
Of course there was the transition of acclimating to the heat and humidity.
“I remember my first practice.” Golding said. “I had dryland before I swam. I had to run three miles and I could only make two, I was overheating. I am used to it now but I still get really red.”
Golding said she is willing to put in the work to make her a better swimmer.
“When I was 8, my goal was to go to the Olympics,” Golding said. “It’s always been my goal. Now that we moved down here it’s starting to become a reality.”
In addition to competing for her club team in Florida Gold Coast meets, Golding made her high school swimming debut for Cooper City as a freshman last week.
“High school swimming is a lot of fun,” Golding said. “There’s no pressure. You just go out there and have fun.
Golding won the 200 IM in 2:07.97 in the Cowboys’ 92-78 loss to Nova. She also swam the 100 freestyle and two relays.
“I don’t know why I love swimming, I just love swimming,” Golding said. “I love going to practice. It’s my favorite time of the day. It’s a different kind of work, not like school.”
Golding hopes to make her mark in high school swimming.
“I will swim whatever they want me to swim,” Golding said. “I want to try and win states in the 200 IM.
“I am really glad I picked swimming, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Golding shared Swimmer of the Month honors with her younger sister, Molly, in January.
Golding joins past Swimmers of the Month Christian Tijero, Joseph Lee, Alana Acevedo, CJ Kopecki, Zackary Harris and Madison Johnson.
The TYR Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions. Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR mini backpack.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org