Catie DeLoof Makes Olympic Team as Gamble to Move to Virginia Pays Immediate Dividends


Whereas the pandemic yr saved swimmers from their fundamental coaching and precipitated quite a lot of frustration, Catie DeLoof used it as a time of reflection.

She had graduated from Michigan, swam within the inaugural Worldwide Swimming League season, then joined her sisters swimming for Group Elite in San Diego.

However the extra time she needed to suppose, the extra time DeLoof felt like she wanted a change of surroundings and mentality.
DeLoof determined to maneuver to Virginia to swim as a post-grad with Todd DeSorbo, a change that in the end acquired her onto the Olympic workforce.

“I don’t suppose I’d have moved if COVID didn’t occur. It gave me time to replicate on what was working and what wasn’t. I took a step again within the sport and was asking myself robust questions. I wanted individuals to see it the best way I noticed it,” Catie DeLoof informed Swimming World. “I moved to Virginia as a result of I used to be searching for one thing somewhat bit totally different. Individuals in San Diego supported me however I didn’t really feel as snug as I wished. Attending to know Todd, I felt extra snug and our aspirations sort of aligned.”

Catie DeLoof. Photograph Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

DeLoof completed fifth within the 100 freestyle on the Olympic Trials to qualify for Tokyo as a relay swimmer.

“I don’t suppose you’ll be able to put it into phrases. With the ability to signify your nation on the highest degree is an honor. I’ve dreamed of it for a very long time. I hope I can encourage individuals again house. So long as you’re employed exhausting and attain in your desires, something can occur,” DeLoof stated.

Whereas most swimmers contact the wall and know whether or not they have made the Olympic workforce or not, DeLoof was pressured to attend. With the addition of recent occasions and the foundations for filling out the workforce the identical, there was extra of a stress ready to search out out if extra spots would have the house to be stuffed.

“It was positively somewhat demanding and overwhelming, however I needed to take it daily. I used to be rooting for the individuals nonetheless swimming, so I wished a spot for them and one for myself. I didn’t wish to get too excited. I want I had identified for positive within the second as a result of it nonetheless hasn’t sunk in that I made the workforce. I don’t suppose it would till I get to Tokyo,” DeLoof stated. “It was positively a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I had my mother and father there. They have been in all probability extra excited than I used to be.”

Studying Curve

The DeLoof household has been a swimming staple for greater than a decade.

Catie DeLoof is the third of 4 sisters within the household and the youngest of three who participated at Trials. Catie made the workforce, however Gabby DeLoof missed by one spot within the 200 free, ending seventh — one spot away from a relay place. Ali DeLoof, the oldest and former short-course American report holder within the 100 backstroke, additionally swam nicely however didn’t make the workforce.
It added as much as a demanding state of affairs for the whole household.


Ali DeLoof (left), Catie DeLoof and Gabby DeLoof once they have been on Group Elite. Photograph Courtesy: DeLoof Household

“All of us nonetheless love and help one another as a result of we’re a detailed tight-knit household. Ali had an awesome 200 backstroke, Gabby virtually made it. We discover good within the small issues. We’re by no means rooting in opposition to one another,” Catie stated. “It could have been cool to have them right here and with the yr we had nothing was anticipated. To have not less than one among us make the workforce is nice. I do know they are going to be cheering for me. Gabby swam earlier than me. I used to be bummed out that she simply missed it and I sort of swam the 100 free for her and Ali and my mother and father and household. It gave me extra motivation and willpower to make the workforce.”

It labored and Catie will head to Tokyo along with her coach. She stated throughout coaching camp in Hawaii, she has been studying extra from DeSorbo, but in addition choosing up issues from fellow swimmers like Simone Manuel, Abbey Weitzeil, Erika Brown and others.

“I nonetheless have my coach right here from Virginia, so coaching has been just about the identical. However I’ve had the chance to coach with among the others like Simone and Erika and Abbey. It’s good to see what they’re doing,” DeLoof stated. “We wish to be at our greatest once we get to Tokyo and that’s the greatest solution to do it. With the ability to be taught from one another has been very nice. We’ve all gotten to know one another fairly nicely at this level. We’ve performed some video games, had dinner collectively and discovered loads about one another. If something, be anticipated to the sudden. You by no means know if somebody goes to the touch the wall lengthy or quick and if somebody will get DQd. With the ability to calm and loosen up. That has helped me develop on relays. That is the primary time for me seeing how everybody swims.”

Choosing up issues shortly from others is one thing that Catie DeLoof has put collectively a historical past doing. She picked up issues from her older sisters, each in highschool and on the College of Michigan. She picked up issues from Michigan coaches Mike Backside and Rick Bishop, in addition to teammates like Siobhan Haughey.

Now, she is choosing up issues from Olympic teammates and DeSorbo.

That’s one thing that instantly paid dividends along with her transfer to Virginia, and her resolution to go there. However not like faculty recruiting the place the athlete is in demand, post-grads face a reverse state of affairs.

“It’s positively totally different. It’s a must to put your self on the market and you’re the one asking the entire robust questions,” she stated. “Him having such a small group at Virginia possibly made it somewhat simpler (to tackle a post-grad). I talked to a few of my buddies who have been swimmers. The swimming neighborhood is small and we all know lots of people. One in all my buddies informed me it was an excellent match. I used to be somewhat hesitant as a result of Todd is such a ball of vitality and I’m sort of the other. But it surely was actually a straightforward dialog.”

Then the actual course of started, with a fast turnaround wanted earlier than the trials.

“Crucial factor that I’ve discovered from him is lifting. I’ve lifted heavy. It has by no means been a spotlight, it has at all times been within the background. I’ve at all times identified I wanted to get stronger,” she stated. “Todd understood how I reacted to issues and understood when to take a step again and when to step in and remind me of one thing. I wasn’t used to lifting heavy, so my physique was going to interrupt down somewhat extra with the larger workload. Undoubtedly my kick and my pull are stronger. I’ve by no means pulled as a lot as I had with Todd. I take advantage of a lot extra tools to kick than I ever was used to. That has helped me loads— going out. I’ve by no means gone out very quick. I construct into my races extra. I nonetheless construct, however now I construct somewhat sooner and now that’s the place the power of the load room helps me.”

It was robust shifting away from her sisters. They’ve been teammates most of their careers relationship again to earlier than highschool and are a part of an especially shut household.

However Catie made the transfer to department out, which was supported by everybody.

“I used to be in a position to be taught much more about myself than I’d have with my sisters. It’s so pure to fall again on your loved ones. We had all the pieces going for us and had it so organized and good (residing collectively). This allowed me to develop and see totally different sides of myself and talk higher. That ultimately led to extra progress within the water. I really like my sisters and nonetheless speak to them on daily basis. They imply loads to me,” she stated.

Catie Deloof

Catie DeLoof; Photograph Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS/ISL

The Future

Catie DeLoof wasn’t positive if she would swim previous the Olympic trials, however making the workforce reinvigorated her for an additional ISL season. She was re-drafted by the Tokyo Frog Kings.

“It saved me motivated to swim afterward. I don’t have a particular reply previous that,” she stated. “I take issues very slowly. I solely determined a number of days earlier than Hawaii that I used to be going to proceed to swim. I solely know that I’m going to do ISL for positive. Then I’ll re-evaluate and see whether it is nonetheless what I wish to do.”

Now, she is concentrated on the swim of a lifetime on the Olympic stage because the U.S. goals for gold within the 4×100 free relay.

“I don’t suppose it’s something totally different. We nonetheless should swim a 100 freestyle. It’s a little bit extra enjoyable. I’ve the chance to swim with the 4 quickest swimmers in america. Not many individuals can try this. Relays offer you extra motivation to swim for one thing greater than your self,” Catie DeLoof stated. “It is usually remembering to remain within the second as a result of it is a chance of a lifetime.”


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