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SMC Swimming: Freshman starts year out strong

Dan Tapetillo | Thursday, November 13, 2003

Caitlin Fitzpatrick is a go-getter. Just ask her coach, Gregg Petcoff.

“[Fitzpatrick] is an exceptionally hard worker who understands the goals of the team,” Saint Mary’s Women’s Swimming coach Petcoff said.

Suffering from the lack of depth in the backstroke the past couple years, Saint Mary’s needed someone who could make a difference and that was exactly what attracted Fitzpatrick to the Belles.

She wanted to contribute to the team individually and as a part of a relay squad, so choosing Saint Mary’s just made sense.

“I was aware the type of swimmers on the team and knew I could contribute with my events,” Fitzpatrick said.

Already performing strong in the first two dual meets of the season, Fitzpatrick has broken school records both individually and as apart of a relay. Leading a strong pack of freshman swimmers which includes teammate Bridget Green, Petcoff is already aware of the team’s talent.

“This could be the best [swimming] team Saint Mary’s has ever had,” Petcoff said.

The Belles have been off to a strong start as the season began during the first weekend of October at the Notre Dame Relays meet. As the dual meets began Nov. 1, Fitzpatrick was able to showcase her dominance in the 200 backstroke with a school record time of 2:18:40. Last weekend, another school record was broken by the 200 medley relay Fitzpatrick was a part of with a time of 1:55:78.

On a relay team dominated by seniors, it is easy to imagine the difficulties involved in transitioning from a high school team captain to a college freshman competing with upperclassmen.

But the transition has actually been anything but strenuous.

“All the upperclassman tell us what Greg’s [Petcoff’s] expectations are and what he expects,” Fitzpatrick said. “All the upperclassmen are extremely supportive and I’m enjoying [swimming] a lot more. A big part of that is the team.”

This mindset is a significant change to the mentality Fitzpatrick suffered from earlier this year.

“After swimming year round and competing in high school, I reached a plateau. I became unmotivated,” Fitzpatrick said.

But once reaching college, Fitzpatrick experienced a different type of training as Petcoff focused more upon the “dry” aspects of swimming, such as weightlifting.

Despite her success, Fitzpatrick has set higher goals for the rest of the season.

“I want to become a leader for the team in different parts of the team, not just in the pool,” she said.