After swimming competitively since she was 8, Katey Rowden still get nervous before each race.
“Even at regionals I was still nervous,” she explained. “Then once I get in the water, I’m OK.”
She jokes the hard part quickly becomes getting out of the pool after an exhausting effort.
Friday and Saturday, the Decatur junior will be climbing in and out of the famed Lee and Joe Jamial Texas Swim Center on the University of Texas campus in Austin during the University Interscholastic League State Swim Meet.
Rowden received call-ups for the meet in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly after finishing second at the Class 4A Region II meet Feb. 8. Rowden swam a 59.7 in the 100 butterfly, and 24.8 in the 50 freestyle.
This will be Rowden’s third state meet. She made the trip to Austin as a freshman in the 50 and 100 freestyle events. Last year, she made it in the 50. Both times, she swam in the consolation finals. She hopes this year to crack the top eight and make the championship heat.
“I always want to do my best and still want to improve my times,” she said. “Most of all, I swim for the glory of the Lord.
“One of my bigger goals is to get in the top three.”
Decatur coach Brooklyn Huffman expects Rowden to contend.
“She’ll do awesome. She’s ready, prepared and rested,” Huffman said. “If she can get in the right mindset, she can make the finals.”
Rowden will be making her debut at state in the 100 butterfly. She’s excited to have this opportunity to compete on the state level in the event.
“I’ve really enjoyed the fly,” she said. “It’s cool to get to swim it down there. It’s something different.”
At state, Rowden expects her times to improve in both events.
“With the energy and faster people around you, it helps you go faster,” she said.
After the state meet, Rowden will immediately start preparing for the long-course season for club swimming. She said she actually prefers the long-course season as opposed to short-course because there are fewer turns.
For Rowden, there is little downtime in the year. She said she usually only takes about two weeks off, in August.
“It takes a lot of dedication, hard work and trust in the Lord,” Rowden said.
Huffman said Rowden’s work ethic, along with the success, has been a great motivator to the young members of the program.
“She has that natural leadership quality,” Huffman explained. “Others look up to her and want to be as successful as she is. To have a leader who works as hard as she does is great. We have such young faces that are looking up to her.”