A freshman, Kalandadze is the Lower Merion High School girls’ record holder in the 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free and 200 IM. She is the Central League champion in the 200 free and 500 free, setting CL Meet records in both events. She was undefeated in individual race throughout her entire dual meet season, and entered the District One championships seeded first in the 500 free, and second in the 200 free.
Q: Can you share with us your most vivid memory of the Central League 200 free and 500 free championship finals?
A: My most vivid memory of these events is whenever I turned my head to breathe, I would see my coach and all of my teammates standing at the edge of the pool cheering me on. It felt really good to know that I was bringing in points for the team and doing my part in order for our team to place in the top six.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest key(s) to your success in the 200 free and the 500 free?
A: I believe that my success is mostly based on the support of my coaches, teammates, and family. I have known [Lower Merion swimming head coach] Jeremy Byrne since I was 7 years old and he knows me better than I know myself. He always knows what to say when I am getting in my head and always takes the time to talk with me when I need it. Also, I get a lot of support from my friends on the team and my mom. My friends are always at the edge of the pool yelling at me to “GO” and although my mom can’t make every competition, she is always there when it counts.
Q: You are the school record-holder in the 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free and 200 IM. Which of those seven record-setting efforts was the most memorable to you, and why?
A: The most memorable of these seven events has to be the 200 medley relay. Swimming is mostly an individual sport but when you swim with a relay you swim for more than just yourself, you swim for a team. When I swim with a relay I feel like I am a part of something bigger than just a swim. I know that my 200 medley relay – Annika Edwards, Melissa Gingold, Sarah Silberg and I – worked together to be the best that we could be and it paid off because we broke the record. We had been trying to break the record for a long time and we finally got it, and that is what made it so memorable.
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?
A: A typical day would be… Wake up, eat breakfast, and take the bus to school. After school I would go to high school practice. This practice would be a warm-up of about 1,000 yards, then a pre-set of about 1,500 yards to get ready for the main set. The main set would consist of about 3,000 yards and would focus on one of three things; pace for certain events, technique and heart rate, or short sprint work. After the main set I would cool down for about 500 yards. Once high school practice is over I would make my way over to Radnor High School for my second, club practice. This practice would consist of the same idea as the first but it would be higher intensity and longer swims to work on my mile and 1,000.
Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?
A: I have been working on my power off of my starts and turns in order to get off of the blocks faster and have better under-waters.
Q: What pool did you first swim for? What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?
A: The first pool I swam for was the Main Line YMCA. It was where I first learned to swim on a somewhat competitive level. My favorite pool has to be at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology, because there are no currents in the pool and it has a very fast feel to it.
Q: Who have been your biggest swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?
A: My biggest swim mentor has been my coach, Jeremy Byrne, because he has stayed with me for seven years even though I can be very difficult at times. He taught me basically everything I know about swimming and I am very grateful for everything he has done for me.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-meet preparation the day of a meet.
A: The day of a meet I always make sure to eat a nice balanced breakfast with some eggs, fruit, and some form of carbohydrates. Throughout the day I try to focus on other stuff so that I don’t psych myself out. When it comes time for the meet, I make sure to pack my bag with everything I need and I double-check to make sure I didn’t forget anything. At the meet, I get a long warm-up in, stretch, and keep myself warm while waiting for my event. Right before the event I listen to my pump-up song and then I am ready to go.
Q: What is your favorite school subject(s)? Is there a particular career path that interests you at the current time?
A: My favorite subject is biology, and I am currently interested in being a pediatric nurse. I have always loved kids and I feel that helping people is the best thing a person can do in life.
Fun facts – Anna Kalandadze
Favorite book: The Giver.
Favorite TV show: The 100.
Favorite movie: Forever Strong, or The Help.
Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Who Am I Living For.
Favorite place to visit: Georgia (the country in Eurasia).
Favorite pre-meet meal: Steak with pasta and salad.
Favorite color: Cobalt blue.
Birth date: July 21, 2001 in Philadelphia.
Family members: Olga Zelenaia (mom), Zoya Bozhko (oldest sister), Nina Kalandadze (second oldest sister), Nona Kalandadze (younger sister), Katie Kalandadze (youngest sister), George Kalandadze (youngest sibling, brother).
(To be selected for Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)