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Katie Crochet, swimmer, Northeast-10

Southern’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will look to continue their dominance of the Northeast-10 when they host the conference championship at Hutchinson Natatorium Feb. 16 to 19.

The men’s team is seeking its 13th NE10 championship title in the past 14 years and seventh in a row.

The women have won 10 NE10 championships in the previous 13 years and have finished in the top three of every single competition.

One of the standout performers on the women’s team is All-American scholar and athlete Katherine Crochet, who won six events at the 2016 conference championship. As a child, Crochet was diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and swimming offered a way to channel her energy.

For more on Katherine Crochet and her inspirational journey, see the video and Q and A below:

 

Meet the Student-Athlete

Katherine Crochet
Majoring in communication disorders, minoring in psychology
Swimming and Diving co-captain
Hometown: Watertown, Conn.

Honors: Pre-season All American (2016) * All American in the 50 and 100 freestyle * Northeast-10 (NE-10) Swimmer of the Year in 2016 * Won six events at the 2016 NE-10 Championship and named Most Outstanding Champion * Two first place finishes at the 2015 NE-10 Championship * College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All American

Record breaker: Southern’s all-time fastest in the 50 Freestyle (23.31) and 100 Freestyle (51.19) * Also holds the Owls’ record in the 400 Freestyle Relay, competing with teammates Sydney Fromkin, Emily Wolfe, and Katherine Krajcik.

In the pool: As a child, Crochet was diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Swimming offered a way to channel her energy.

Inspiration: “I wasn’t a very good swimmer growing up,” says Crochet, who credits her former Watertown Parks and Recreation coach Paul Catuccio, ’97, M.S. ’01, 6th Yr. ’10, with igniting her competitive spirit when she was in eighth grade. “He told me, ‘If you put some effort in to it, you could be really good.‘ It just clicked,” she says. Today, Catuccio is the athletics director at Watertown High School.

Hit by pre-NCAA Championship Nerves: “I talked to former All American national champion Amanda Thomas, [’13, M.S. ’15] — someone I always looked up to. . . . She told me, ‘You deserve to go. You are just as fast as any of those girls.’

Puppy love: Cares for her own rescue dog, Wesley, and helps her mom, Stacy — owner of Stacy’s Pet Porium — provide foster care for animals. “We have anywhere from 10 to 15 puppies at any one time — all rescues.”

On her Teammates: “We have one common goal this season — winning the NE-10.”

Katie Crochet, swimmer, Northeast-10

Tyler Steskla

Sophomore Tyler Steskla of the Southern Connecticut State University men’s swimming and diving team is accustomed to dealing with adversity. At the same time, he is also well versed in the elements of perseverance and accomplishing goals.

He was all set to enter the pool and be a key contributor for the Owls’ in the pool last fall. Unfortunately, he was deemed ineligible by the NCAA to compete following a review of his high school coursework. Rather, he was able to practice with the team but could not compete in regular or post-season meets.

Part of the reason why he is able to shake off obstacles is the fact that he has overcome plenty of roadblocks since being diagnosed with autism at age 3. Tyler’s story was recently featured on NBC Connecticut and received national publicity as well across the NBC broadcasting platform.

“People that have this diagnosis know that it’s not easy for them, and they want to accomplish more than people think that they can,” Steskla said.

Accomplishing more has always been a part of Steskla’s nature. In the pool, he was an Age Group champion and Nationals qualifier as a part of the Cheshire Sea Dogs swim club. That prowess caught the eye of Owls’ coach Tim Quill. Steskla joined the program for the fall 2014 semester.

After receiving the unfortunate news from the NCAA, Steskla did what he always does – overcome the roadblock. He had a grade point average in excess of 3.0 in the spring of 2015.

“Personally, I was really worried about him because I know how passionate he was about it (swimming),” Quill said. “He was devastated, but instead what he did was embrace the situation, pull a 3.0 (grade point average) last semester.”

A Cheshire native, Steskla was one of the Owls’ stars of this year’s Northeast-10 Conference Championship, which took place in Worcester, Mass., in early February. He had three top-14 finishes, including a fourth place finish in the 1,650 yard freestyle – the equivalent of a mile swim. Southern Connecticut won its sixth straight NE-10 title and 14th in the last 15 years.

“He’s just a great example of that when you set your mind to something, anything’s possible,” Quill said. “People would look at Tyler in that he has a disability in some regards, but I look at it more as a strength.”

Watch the video about Steskla on NBC Connecticut