Dec. 14, 2009
Mae Margaret Davis, Auburn Media Relations
Auburn freshman Katie Gardocki found her niche in the pool early in her career, though it may have been more a lack of choices and not pure chance that led her to becoming a long distance swimmer.
"It kind of started with my coach in Connecticut," said Gardocki. "Everyone up here is a long-distance swimmer, so I just kind of tried it and stuck with it. My times were really fast and I didn't really try anything else."
Like many of Auburn's champion swimmers, the 17-year old freshman from Suffield, Conn., says she came to Auburn for its reputable swimming program - and "to get away from the cold, of course." Gardocki has quickly proven she has what it takes to compete with and against some of the best collegiate swimmers in the nation.
As a long-distance swimmer, Gardocki's training process is much different than it is for sprinters.
"It's a lot longer, it's a lot harder training," said Gardocki. "It's more focused on technique and working on getting the right pace and getting the right feel for the race, whereas sprinting is just like all-out fast."
Gardocki also says that staying focused is the key to winning races that require a bit more stamina than sprint-like speed.
"When there's someone swimming right next to you, your focus is just on beating them," said Gardocki. "If you're by yourself, it really is just concentrating on your stroke and your time and your technique and just trying to finish the race."
Only three dual meets into the 2009 season, Gardocki has already competed in nine events and has claimed four first-place finishes. The Tigers traveled to Baton Rouge, La., to open the season against LSU where Gardocki swam in her first collegiate competition. She took first in both the 1000-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle.
Three weeks later, Alabama traveled to Auburn to compete in the Iron Bowl of swimming and Gardocki took easy wins in the 1650 freestyle and again in the 500 freestyle, beating her previous time against LSU by 0.31 seconds. Gardocki was also awarded her first Southeastern Conference weekly honor, being named SEC Female Freshman of the Week after the meet against Alabama.
Against SEC rival Georgia, Gardocki finished third in the 400 individual medley and the 500 free, but beat both of her previous 500 free times by almost 5 seconds.
"I never thought that I would have this much success in the beginning," said Gardocki. "It makes me really excited for the end of the year because I'm doing well right now. Hopefully, I'll just keep getting better."
With so much early success, Gardocki is looking to continue swimming well throughout the season, and wants to reach her goal of helping the team get back on top at NCAA meet.
"I want to make finals and I want to get points," said Gardocki. "I just really want to get to NCAAs and finally get a best time and be there for my team."