In a sport in which the top athletes typically start young, Kate Clark is the exception to the rule.
She started swimming competitively in eighth grade. At the time, the furthest thing from her mind was competing at the college level, let alone at a Division I school.
“That didn’t even cross my mind,” Clark said. “I just did it for fun. I was looking for something to do.
“A few years later, I started realizing, ‘Maybe I could swim for a D-III school or maybe a D-II,” she said. “Now, I get to swim for a D-I.”
The Aiken-Augusta Swim League athlete and Greenbrier High School senior proved just how far she’s come in the sport, committing recently to swim at Georgia Tech.
She’ll be part of a big freshman class for the Yellow Jackets next fall that includes a number of Atlanta-area swimmers she knows from her year-round competitions.
“The coaches there are extremely nice, and they know about swimming a lot there,” Clark noted. “I also love the team. That’s a huge part of what I was looking for. I fit in well with them.”
Clark, who swims butterfly, all distances of freestyle, and individual medley, likely will focus on mid-distance freestyle and butterfly for the Yellow Jackets.
Her college decision came down to Georgia Tech and Colorado State.
“It was a hard decision,” Clark said. “Colorado State is the new experience, farther away. I did love it there, with the campus, the team and the coach.
“But it came down to being more comfortable at Georgia Tech.”
The Atlanta school will offer Clark the opportunity to continue studying something she’s become interested in at Greenbrier.
Interested in language studies after learning French in high school, Clark would like to major in international affairs or modern language and cultural studies. Business is another option she’s considering.
Georgia Tech also was an attractive option because it features a venue, built specifically for the 1996 Olympic Games, with which Clark is familiar.
It was there she finished sixth in the 200-yard freestyle and eighth in the 100-yard fly at the State Swimming and Diving Championships as a junior.
Clark has represented ASL at the highest level. It’s a testament to just how quickly she’s picked up the sport.
“She’s been on a really rapid improvement curve,” said Adam Byars, the program director and head coach for ASL. “She has a really great attitude and is a great leader. I think she’ll take that to Tech.”