By Will LeBlond
The local area knows about 15-year-old Grace Kadlecik and her talents in the pool, but she’s starting to show off her skills elsewhere.
The rising Lansing High School sophomore has already made a splash in her time with the Bobcats, as she celebrated a Section IV championship last season as the 50-yard freestyle champion with her winning time of 24.73. She also teamed with Marin Allen, Mackenzie Stark, and Meghan Matheny to win the 200-yard medley relay at that same championship meet in November.
With another high school season on the horizon, Kadlecik was very busy over the summer getting ready and she picked up a few more accolades along the way. She competed in the USA Swimming Eastern Zone Championship meet in Richmond, Virginia in mid-August in what was the biggest competition she has ever been a part of.
“It was kind of crazy,” said Kadlecik on the meet in Virginia. “Usually the meets I go to are a lot smaller and a lot closer. It was a really good experience and it really opened my eyes to what’s out there. It was really cool.”
The four-day competition for the top swimmers in the Northeast quadrant of the United States is part of a hierarchy of meets that goes all the way up to the best competitors in the country. Qualifying for the meet was quite the challenge for Kadlecik, but it was always on the forefront of her mind when she spent two hours in the pool each day, which amounted to around 8,000 meters per day, to get ready.
“I was training really hard and that was my goal for the summer, to go to that meet,” said Kadlecik. “I had that in mind while I was training, so I could achieve it.”
Her training paid off, as she qualified for six events, which included the 50, 100, 200 and 400-meter freestyle, the 100-meter fly and the 100-meter backstroke. At the event itself, she competed with the Team Niagara section of the competition and put up some nice times and also notched a win.
She earned top-eight finishes in all of her freestyle events and also achieved zone champion status with her winning time of 27.69 in the 50-meter freestyle. The finish was a personal best for her, as she came in just before a pair of Virginia natives, but she claimed the tight competition made her that much faster.
“It’s fun just being there with all those people to compete,” said Kadlecik. “It’s a little stressful, but that environment helped me swim faster.”
Her performance in Virginia was good enough to move her on to the next level, as Kadlecik can now think about competing against the best in the country. Next up on the USA Swimming circuit for her will be the NCSA Junior Nationals in Orlando, Florida, which will be in March of next year.
While she has her national meet coming up next spring to look forward to, her focus has shifted back to Lansing and her Bobcat teammates, as she hopes to be a part of a title-winning squad this fall.
“Hopefully we can be section champs as a team,” said Kadlecik on the team goal for the season. “Also making states in a few events would be nice.”
Kadlecik and the Bobcats will open up their 2018 campaign on Sept. 6 when they’ll visit Whitney Point and then their first home meet will be on the Sept. 11 when they will host Southern Cayuga.
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