Katrina Marty always knew she wanted to swim at Arizona State University.
Six years ago, when she was a middle-school student and emerging star swimmer, she went so far as to send an email to Arizona State, just to let them know of her plans.
Oops. Soon afterward, she learned that what she actually wanted was to swim at the University of Arizona — the alma mater of her hero and mentor, Olympic gold medalist Beth Botsford.
No matter. Her love for Arizona State already was set in stone. And this past May, she made it official with a verbal commitment to the Sun Devils program.
Her whole affection for Tempe — or was that Tucson? — came from Botsford, who won a gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta at the age of 15, and went on to an All-American swimming career with the Wildcats.
After Marty started taking private lessons from Botsford in Madison, she decided she wanted to swim at the same school as her hero. Even though her initial contact with Arizona State was the result of a slight mix-up, it was too late — she had fallen in love with Arizona State and never looked back.
Plus, this way she won’t have to swim in the shadow of Botsford, who has helped to mold Marty into a two-time WIAA Division 1 state champion in the 100-meter backstroke.
Even with all the success and attention, Marty says she hasn’t let swimming take over her life or dominate her identity.
“A lot of people take swimming really seriously,” Marty said. “At West, it’s always fun. It’s just always a good time.”
Away from the pool, she’s a well-rounded high school girl who simply likes to have fun with her friends. In the water, though, she’s locked in and working her hardest to take advantage of every lap, every stroke.
Over her high school career, Marty says she has become more goal-oriented. She always wants to improve her times, but she also wants to be a better leader and a better friend to her teammates.
“What she really has worked on and grown with is the mental aspect of swimming,” Madison West coach Amanda Ellmaker said. “Her teammates all know how great she is, but she really is able to connect with them on a deeper level.”
Marty is one of four captains for the Regents this season and leads a program that has 15 seniors on its roster of 37 girls.
Last season, when that big group was juniors, a lack of experience as a whole limited their success. This year, though, Ellmaker is confident in what she calls “a special group of girls.
“One really unique goal that the team decided as a group is that they are going to improve their total points from each dual meet,” Ellmaker said. “So they’re not constantly measuring themselves against Middleton, the fastest team in the state, they’re just focusing on what they can do as a team.”
Madison West is realistic about what it can accomplish this season. They know they don’t have the numbers to make it to the top of the conference, even if Marty is back at the top of the podium in November. What’s most important to the Regents is pushing themselves to be better — and having fun while they do it.
“We all just work really well together,” Marty said. “My swim team is basically like my family, and it’s still just something I love to do with my friends.”
She’ll bring that spirit to Arizona State next fall and will have a good time with her friends — although it might be a good idea for Marty to doublecheck before declaring her major.