Senior swimmer Katie Hale anticipates victory for Park City Miners
From her first year on the Park City High School swimming team, senior Katie Hale has competed in the state tournament. But when she thinks back on it, the race she remembers wasn’t her own.
“It was the boys 400 free relay at state and it was so close,” she said in a phone interview. “It was the closest race I have ever seen. In all the stands the fans were screaming; I have never been to a meet so loud. It was my first year at state and to win a race like that was so fun.”
She said memories like those help push her to reach her potential, especially on tough days of practice, which are frequent on a team that pushes itself to be a step above the competition. Those fond memories also help her relax when she starts to feel pressure to win.
In past years, Park City’s dominance has been pronounced. Hale said the team effectively didn’t have competitors in Class 3A. “We’ve won state by like 400 points,” she said. “I think last year the girls won every event but two, if I remember right.”
“It hasn’t been too difficult to win the past couple years,” she continued. “That’s why it’s so exciting to be in 4A and have some really good competition.”
She said now, as the team breaks new ground, the expectation to win state is fueling the team’s success. “We have a reputation of being the best that makes it easier to work hard,” she said.
And it’s not like the team has lost momentum. It still has the elements that have made it successful in the past – a high coach-to-athlete ratio, excellent coaching staff, and a good turnout of talent — so Hale expects success this year too.
That looks even more likely following last weekend’s Park City Swimvitational meet.
“It makes me really optimistic having beaten the teams that were there,” she said.
The teams Park City beat included a handful of opponents that will likely be in various state meets, including Lone Peak (whose boys won 5A last season), American Fork and Sky View (whose girls won 5A last season).
The Albuquerque-born Hale first started swimming in fifth grade, when her parents quietly enrolled her in a competitive swimming program so her brother would have someone to swim with. After her brother left, she stuck with it, and became part of a community of friends that she’s been swimming with ever since.
“They are all super hard working and they all can maintain a positive attitude even when the workout is really hard or when they have a lot of homework to get to,” she said. “It makes it really fun.”
After so many years putting the hard work in, Hale is looking toward new heights. She said she hopes to earn a spot in the next Junior Nationals tournament, and has her eye on a couple state records – the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke in particular.
After high school she will attend University of Idaho college, where she will also swim. Between then and now?
“I have a couple meets that I will be training for over the summer and after state, so just more swimming,” she said. “Lots of swimming.”
But she’s not looking too far out yet. Her next priority is to win state and cap off four years of memories at PCHS.
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