By Ryan Kaczmarski
The wealth of world-class athletes from the Westshore seems to be unending. Over the last few weeks, there have been several locals that either made, or are on the cusp of making, the U.S. Olympic team.
Maddie Kete falls into the latter category with her Olympic swim trials qualification in the 50-meter freestyle event. She is a Bay Village native, Magnificat graduate and an incoming senior at Miami University (Ohio).
Kete is one of six Red Hawk swimmers and divers to qualify. She qualified with a time of 26.24 seconds at the Ohio Swim Senior Circuit meet, held in Oxford, Ohio, in May.
The Olympic trials will be held in Omaha, Neb., from June 25 to July 2, with Kete’s run at it coming on July 1.
“I have a little bit more time (to train),” Kete said. “I’m about three weeks out, but it’s very, very exciting.
“Some of my other teammates that are swimming early on in the week are already starting to come down from their workouts and are telling me how excited they are,” she added. “It’s fun to have their input.”
This is Kete’s first run at qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team, and it took some nudging from some of her teammates to put the idea of international competition into her head.
“One of my teammates got one of her (qualifying times) last summer,” she said. “She planted the seed in everyone else’s minds that ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’”
Most of her teammates tried for their qualifying times at a meet in March, with Kete holding off.
“I didn’t really decide that I wanted to train for (the Olympic trials) and try to compete until the middle of April,” she said. “My training had been going really well this spring, and I finally got (the qualification) in May.”
She competes in the 50-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle events, as well as swimming in the 400-meter relay, for the Red Hawks, and usually stays away from the long distance events.
“My coaches spoiled me when I was growing up,” she said laughingly. “I chose my events at the meets, so I always chose the shortest ones, obviously.
“I’ve always been a sprinter at heart.”
While Kete did play other sports growing up, swimming became her focus at a young age.
“Swimming has always been my passion,” she said. “I’ve always liked swimming, because it is an individual sport. You can set personal goals and achieve those goals by yourself.
“It has always been a stress-relieving outlet (for me).”
Kete started her swimming career on a swim team from Avon Lake before joining the Lakewood Swim Club, with which she still swims during the college offseason.
While swimming for Magnificat, she qualified for the state meet four times, gaining All-American honors in her senior year.
While the Blue Streaks team only swam together while the winter sports season was going, she still remained at the Lakewood Swim Club the rest of the year.
Kete noted that there was a big jump in the competition she was facing at college and the amount of training that was needed, compared to swimming in high school.
“It’s very different,” she said. “It’s more of a lifestyle now than a sport (to me).
“I was really scared when I went into (college athletics),” she added. “I heard all the horror stories about how the college ‘owned you’ after getting a scholarship, but it has really been a great experience and I would do it all over again.”
The other Red Hawks competing at the Olympic swim trials are Bekka Westrick, Leah Thornton, Maegan O’Connor, Megan Brunn and diver Lacey Houser.
Kete has a chance to be a second-generation Olympian – her uncle, Steve Trevor, competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games in the sport of fencing.