The Lower Merion junior captured the PIAA 3A state championship in the 500 free for the third consecutive time, clocking a school-record time of 4:46.25. She is a six-time state medal winner, finishing fourth in the 200 free this winter and earning medals in the 200 free as a freshman and sophomore as well. Kalandadze is a three-time District 1 champion, a six-time district medal winner and the District 1 record holder in the 500 free. She holds eight Lower Merion swimming records (500 free, 200 free, 100 free, 50 free, 100 fly, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay). Outside of Lower Merion, Kalandadze is a USA Swimming Junior National medal winner and a Senior National qualifier (both in the pool and open water).
Q: You won the 500 free at States for the third consecutive time. What is your most vivid memory of this race – can you share it with us?
A: My most vivid memory is the support I got afterwards from my coach, teammates, friends, and my mom. It means the world that they could all be there for me.
Q: What do you think has been the key to your success in the 500 free this season?
A: Hard work and persistence. Every day in practice I work on my pace and technique and it definitely pays off.
Q: You hold eight Lower Merion school records. Which of those eight record-setting efforts was the most memorable to you, and why?
A: I think the most memorable swims are all three of the relays. I really love all the girls on the team, and being able to make school history with them is an amazing experience.
Q: You are the District 1 record-holder in the 500 free. What has been your best swim in the 500 free – and what was the key to your success that day?
A: I don’t think I’ve had my best swim yet. Whenever I am done racing I always know that I have more left in me and that next time will be better. In terms of success with the 500, I think it is because of my mentality. When I swim the 500 I never think of it as a race against other swimmers, I think of it as a race against myself. I want to be the best that I can be.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience in the pool outside of swimming for Lower Merion?
A: My most memorable experience was being able to compete in Open Water Nationals last spring. They were in California, and not only was it a beautiful trip, but I got to experience a new environment and step out of my comfort zone (it was my first ever 10K).
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?
A: A typical practice for me would be about 3,000-4,000 yards of warm up, then a 2,000 yard pre-set. The main set is typically either pace or over-distance which is about 2,000 yards. Then I do about 500 yards of cool down. If I am in high school season, then I do less at the high school practice and then go to my club practice.
Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?
A: I have been working on improving my breaststroke. I haven’t really paid much attention to it the past few years and recently decided to see what I can do with it.
Q: What pool did you first swim for? What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?
A: I learned how to swim at the old Main Line YMCA. I still remember my first coach and my first race like it was last week. My favorite venue has to be the Ohio State pool. It has an incredibly fast feel to it and a really nice set up.
Q: Who have been your biggest swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?
A: My biggest mentors are my coach and my mom. I met my coach on my first swim team when I was 8 and he has been my coach since then. He has taught me everything I know about swimming and he’s also taught me how to be a good teammate and leader. My mom is my rock. I tell her everything. She is always there for me no matter what. She has taught me how to be a strong and confident individual. I can’t express how much I appreciate what each of them has done for me.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-meet preparation the day of a meet.
A: I don’t really have a set routine but I always have to have an extra cap, extra goggles, and extra suits in case something of mine breaks. Before my race I will put on my headphones, turn the volume up all the way, and block everything else out.
Q: What would you like to major in at college? Is there a particular career path that interests you at the present time?
A: I plan to major in Biology and then go into Marine Biology.
Fun facts – Anna Kalandadze
Favorite book: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.
Favorite TV show: Stranger Things.
Favorite movie: Coach Carter.
Favorite color: Blue.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her head coach.)
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