For the second straight year, Katey Rowden is heading to state.
The Decatur sophomore will return to compete at the University Interscholastic League’s championships Friday and Saturday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Rowden will swim in the 50-yard freestyle race.
She currently sits 12th in the field, with her time of 25-flat at the regional meet two weeks ago. Rowden’s main hope this weekend is to break that 25 mark.
“My goal is to improve my time,” Rowden said. “I want a 24.99, and I’m one hundredth of a second off. With that time I can get into the sectional meet of the USA Club.”
Rowden is a member of USA Club swimming, and a sub-25 time would qualify her for extra events.
To get to that point she has been constantly tweaking technique to shave off that extra fraction of time.
“We’ve mainly been working on speed because I’m just doing the 50. We do a lot of sprints and dives.”
Decatur coach Doris Dennard added that they’ve really been concentrating on her dive.
“We are trying to touch up her dive,” she said. “There are some things in her dive that she needs a reminder of. She had about as good a dive as she’s had at regionals.”
Her regional time puts her over a full second behind top qualifier Katie Boyer of Dallas Highland Park. She is a half-second away from climbing into the top 6.
“There are a couple of times that are just a little bit faster than me,” Rowden said. “If I can stay up with them or beat them then I’ll have the 24.”
Rowden went into the regional meet as an underdog to advance to state with the stiffer competition this year, but she says that helped her focus even more.
“It was a lot tougher. There were a lot of faster swimmers, which was nice because it pushed me to do better,” Rowden said. “There are some people down there [at state] that are really good, so it gives me an opportunity to swim against the best.”
Rowden is no stranger to the UT pool in Austin. At the UIL state meet last season, she captured 15th in the 100-yard freestyle and took 16th in the 50-yard freestyle.
Rowden has also swam there in USA Club events, which should be a nice advantage.
“You’ve already been there and know what the pool feels like,” Rowden said. “It takes away some of the nerves.”
Dennard says Rowden will have a couple of more little things to her advantage.
“When she wears her competition suit she feels faster,” her coach said. “It’s a mind thing for a lot of them. Those suits make a tiny bit of difference, but in her mind it makes her feel faster. She also likes the [starting] blocks down there, so that helps.”
No matter what happens this weekend, Dennard says Rowden has been tremendous for the young Decatur program.
“She been a big boost,” Dennard said. “The program is only 5 years old. We’ve always had some good swimmers, but she is the fastest that has come along. She’s the only one to ever make it to state.”
With two years of eligibility remaining Rowden’s future is only looking brighter.