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Swimming: Flying to finish – Rowden caps stellar career at fourth state meet

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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Katey Rowden can’t hide her excitement over her weekend trip to Austin.

“I’m so excited. I’ve already packed my bags,” said the Decatur senior Monday.

Making Waves One Last Time

MAKING WAVES ONE LAST TIME – Decatur’s Katey Rowden will make her fourth trip to the state swim meet this weekend. Rowden will swim in the 5A 100 butterfly prelims Friday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

But Rowden’s final trip to the University Interscholastic League state swimming championship is also admittedly emotional. Heading to Texas A&M next fall for college, she is not planning to swim on the next level.

“It’s crazy how quick it goes by,” Rowden said. “With this being my last high school meet, it’s pretty crazy to think about. It’s definitely bittersweet.”

Rowden will swim in the Class 5A 100 butterfly. She earned a spot in the state meet for a fourth straight year by winning the event at the 5A Region II meet in 59.14. She enters this weekend’s meet with the 12th best time.

She knows she will need her best time and likely under 59 seconds to make the finals. She believes she can get there having to swim only one race. At regionals, she competed in the 50 freestyle and on the 200 medley relay before the 100 butterfly.

“Swimming the 50 takes a lot out of me,” she explained. “I’ll definitely have energy I haven’t had before.

“I’ll have super competition and that will push me harder. I know it’ll take a low 58 to get to the finals.”

Rowden reached state as a freshman in the 50 and 100 freestyle. As a sophomore, she qualified in the 50. Last year, she returned to Austin to compete in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

Decatur coach Brooklyn Huffman credited Rowden’s strong work ethic and many hours in the pool for earning the trips to Austin.

“It’s really an honor to get to state all four years,” said Huffman.

Huffman worked with Rowden when she was first competing at the 8-year-old level.

“[This weekend] will be emotional for her and me,” Huffman said. “As a senior, to send her off at state is amazing.”

It was after Huffman took over the swim program last year that Rowden returned to competing in the buttefly.

“When I started coaching, I asked, ‘why are you not in the butterfly?'” Huffman said. “She’s really developed in the fly and been building speed.”

She now claims it’s her favorite event.

“It’s all about power,” Rowden said.

This weekend, she plans to give it her all.

“There’s no reason to hold back,” Rowden said. “It’s my last year.”

Her four trips to Austin have set a high bar for the young Decatur swim program. Building a strong program has been important to her. It’s evident as younger swimmers call her the “swim mom.”

Rowden is also quick to give others credit for their part in her success.

“It’s been all God. I’ve been blessed so much with coaches that push me and awesome teammates that have put up with me,” Rowden said. “I can’t take any of the credit. I’ve been blessed with awesome people.”

And to top an already amazing career, Rowden hopes to compete in Saturday’s finals for a chance to bring home a medal.

“It’d be an amazing accomplishment to place in the top eight,” Rowden said. “I’m holding nothing back.”

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