Villa Maria Academy swimmer Kaitlyn Agger is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week

The Villa Maria junior has been an integral part of the Hurricanes’ swim team as it shoots for a seventh consecutive PIAA state team championship this winter. Last winter at States, she finished fourth in the 100 fly and sixth in the 500 free. Villa Maria head coach Cathy Hay said, “Kaitlyn swims consistently fast, whether during the middle of the season or at championship meets.  She is a highly dependable performer, has a cheerful and positive attitude that is very contagious, and has the great ability to bring her teammates up to her level when it’s time to compete.”

Q: What do you think is your best event, and why?

A: I think my best event is the 500 free. I’ve never been much of a sprinter and feel my strength is in distance events because of my stamina.  I swim for Coach Richard Shoulberg and his program is designed to strengthen and improve a distance swimmer’s endurance. I actually prefer longer distances than the 500 freestyle but these events are not offered in high school. But, I’m thinking Coach Hay believes there just might be a bit of a sprinter in me which is why she puts me wherever I’m needed to get points for the team (smiles).

Q: What pool did you first swim for? What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?

A: At the age of 7, I joined the Suburban Seahawks Club in Newtown Square. Up until the fall of 2015, I swam under Coach Charlie Kennedy and loved it!  Those of you who know Charlie, know that he is one of the most kind, gentle and giving coaches. He truly cares about every swimmer he has the privilege of coaching.  My favorite pool is and has always been Bucknell because I always seem to have my best swims in that pool.

Q: How do you view your leadership role on the Villa Maria swim team?

A: I believe in leading by example. I set high expectations for myself and always strive to compete to the best of my ability.  I encourage my teammates to do the same. I always try to create a relaxing and stress-free environment by always smiling and fostering laughter.  Regardless of a swimmer’s ability, I believe each girl is an essential part of the team because WE ARE VILLA and Villa believes in a true team concept.

Q: What was the key to your success at States last winter?

A: There were several factors that contributed to my success at States last year. The physical preparation done before States was the first phase. Once I got to States, it was all mental preparation from that point on.  Feeling the pressure to success not only for myself, but for my team was a bit overwhelming.  But the support of my family and teammates motivated me to want to do my best.

Q: What was your most vivid memory at States last winter – can you share it with us?

A: While there were many wonderful memories, I have to mention two that vividly stick out in my mind.  One was the friendships forged between VMA and the Gwynedd Mercy girls. At the end of the meet as the winning teams were being announced, Villa and Gwynedd each made tunnels for the other team to run through. It was awesome to see the mutual respect, admiration and friendship these two competitive schools felt for one another.  The second special memory I have was when our team captain, Emily Cornell, won the 200 yard freestyle.  Watching my teammates rally around her to congratulate her after such an important win was truly a special Villa moment.

Q: What (in your opinion) has been your best swim this season to date, and why?

A: I think my best swim so far this season was the 500 free in December against Conestoga. This season I’ve been putting a lot of focus on my starts, turns and tempo because these are areas I need to improve. In this particular race, I was pleased with my performance in these areas.

Q: You coaches laud your consistency and dependability. Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?

A: During the week, I get up at 6 a.m. and exercise on the swimming erg to help improve my temp. I go to school until 2:55 p.m. then it’s off to swimming with my club team from 3:45 – 6 p.m.  Depending on how much school work I have, I’ll do dryland from 6 – 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, I swim from 7:30-10:30 a.m.; followed by dryland.  On Sunday, I swim from 8 – 10 a.m.  I also do the swim erg on both Saturday and Sunday.

Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?

A: As previously mentioned, I’ve been putting much focus on my tempo, as well as my starts and turns. Additionally, I’ve been working on improving my butterfly stroke.  By lowering my fly time, I’m hoping to secure a better placement at districts/states.

Q: Who have been your biggest swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?

A: Sue Shank was one of my very first coaches at Suburban. She took me under her wing right from the beginning and showed me how to love, respect and appreciate the sport of swimming.  She clearly laid the ground work for my swim career, and for that I will always have a special place in my heart for her.

Q: Tell us a little about your pre-meet preparation the day of a meet.

A: I try to eat a good meal the night before and get to bed early. I try to get at least 9-10 hours of sleep before a really big meet.  Prior to my races I think about expectations and what I need to do to perform at that level.  I also try to stay loose and relaxed because it helps to take some of the pressure off. I always try to have fun regardless of how important a meet is.

Q: What (to you) has been the highlight of your swimming career outside of Villa Maria?

A: Swimming under Richard Shoulberg, who I absolutely respect and adore, has been and continues to be a highlight in my swimming career. His workouts can be grueling at times, but I love the challenge.  I also love hearing his coaching stories about all the talented swimmers he has coached over the decades. He supports and encourages me through all of my ups and downs.  It’s also not unusual to have a former Olympian show up at a practice one in a while.

Q: What do you think you might want to major in at college? Is there a particular career path that interests you?

A:  I am interested in becoming an entrepreneur so I’ll be looking for a college that has a good business program.

Fun facts – Kaitlyn Agger

Favorite book:  The Outsiders.

Favorite TV show:  Friends.

Favorite movie:  She’s the Man.

Favorite place to visit:  Outer Banks, N.C.

Favorite pre-meet meal:  Chicken noodle soup.

Favorite color:  Lilac.

Birth date: Dec. 3, 1999 in Wynnewood.

Family members: Parents Kevin and Kim, brother Kevin.

(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her school.)

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