posttrib
CHARMING 
Weather Updates

Girls swimming: Valparaiso senior Kaitlyn Steffus looking to go out in style

Valparaiso's Kaitlyn Steffus leavesThursday for state finals Indianapolis. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Valparaiso's Kaitlyn Steffus leavesThursday for the state finals in Indianapolis. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 44308101
tmspicid: 16409404
fileheaderid: 7362145
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: March 10, 2013 6:41AM



It may be an age old cliche, but everything goes in cycles.

In the constant turnover faced in high school and college sports, that cycle is the rise and fall of talent and depth. And for the Valparaiso girls swimming team in the 2012-13 season, it has been a scenario of retooling for the historically strong Vikings.

“That’s the hard part of being in a finite coaching position — your athletes are going to go away in a couple of years,” said Valparaiso swimming coach Pete Sattler of adjusting to change.

Usually, a bigger threat in the Duneland Conference, and a squad that is good for advancing a few events down to the IUPUI Natatorium for the state meet, the Porter County program has been adjusting. Sattler and upperclassmen shifted some of their focus to looking at the positive gains made among the greener swimmers and building to the future.

But, a competitive vibe didn’t slip away. The taste for representation in the IHSAA postseason was still satiated. And when the regular season was all said and done, senior Kaitlyn Steffus was determined to carry on some of Valparaiso’s deep tradition. After all, Steffus, a former sectional champ in the 100 butterfly, has gone downstate each season in different events.

“There was a lot of pressure because it was my last year and the fact of swimming state last year,” she said, after her strong third place time of 58.09 at the Chesterton Sectional advanced her in the Vikings’ lone swimming event. She’ll join fellow classmate and diver Khalela El-Naggar this weekend, when the action begins on Friday in Indianapolis.

“There was the pressure there, but I kind of felt relaxed going into sectionals. Because, I was so close to the time already.”

This time making it out of sectionals meant a fierce battle in the fly. The eventual winner, freshman Vanessa Krause of Chesterton, is a competitor with a lot of upside and runner-up and LaPorte senior, Carly Jackson, has proven herself as a big meet swimmer. Krause, who swam 55.77 in the finals, narrowly edged Jackson (who improved from a 58.08 time in the prelims to go 56.63 in the finals) and Steffus also finished bigger in the championship, improving from a 58.36 finish in last year’s finals and a 58.83 time in the prelim.

“It was a tight race throughout the whole event,” said Steffus, who was ready for a tough fight. “We were all really close together the first 50, the 75 we started to drift slightly, the last 25 we all pushed it our hardest.”

Other than the obvious quest to finish as one of the state’s top eight, Steffus is eager to break a school mark that is decades old.

“Actually I’m really close to our school record; it has been in place for 20 years,” she said. “I feel like this year I can focus on that, all in itself, and I feel this year I can give it all that I have.”

Sattler has a primary goal for the swimmer who helped train many of the younger swimmers.

“Just when she gets out and she’s done … that she’s proud of what she’s done and she knows that she’s given every once of energy that she could for that goal,” he said.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.