Kaitlin and Sarah in the News!

Beverly swimmers earn spots in U.S. Olympics Team Trials

By Jason Brisbois

On June 5, Beverly’s Kaitlin Harty and Sarah Welch began the day with a life-changing event, and then finished the day with yet another.
The pair of former Beverly High School students graduated with the rest of the senior class that Sunday morning, making their parents and loved one’s proud. Later in the day, the duo competed in the Boudreau Meet in the Sterling YMCA pool in Beverly, with both swimmers qualifying for the United States Olympics Team Trials.
While Harty swam well enough to make the cut the Saturday before graduation, Welch just missed the cut. The duo was determined to work together the next day so that Welch could qualify and both could move on to compete at the trials.
“That Sunday was Beverly High graduation, and they came in that morning and worked out,” explains Arthur Athanas, Director of Aquatics at the Sterling YMCA. “They went to graduation after that, and came back that night and time-trialed together, and that’s when Sarah made the Olympic Trial cut. There was not a dry eye in the house. Every other team and the parents had been staying to watch, and it was just awesome. The place erupted.”
Welch and Harty both qualified in the 200 backstroke, while Harty also qualified in the 100 backstroke. The two young women will now head to Omaha, Neb., to compete in the trials, which will be held June 26-July 3. The top two finishers in each event will move on to represent their country as swimmers in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I have known Sarah for a long time, and she is an absolute sweetheart,” says Athanas. “She’s a great leader with lots of positive energy, a never-give- up kind of kid. She always has a smile on her face.
“Caitlin Harty I met last September when her mom [YMCA North Shore Head Coach Janet Harty) became the head coach,” he added. “She came in here as a highly-touted swimmer, and I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. They’re both great leaders in the pool, great leaders off the pool deck and great teammates.”
By Athanas’ reckoning, Harty and Welch are only the third and fourth swimmers to make the cut for the Olympic qualifiers in his 20 years working with the YMCA swim program. The most recent Beverly resident to make the cut was Astrid Swensen in 2012.
“It’s not a common thing,” says Athanas. “It’s a holy grail for kids who are faster swimmers to make it to the USA national team events, and usually become a college swimmer.”
Harty and Welch are no exception to these goals: Welch will swim at Brown University in the fall, while Harty is headed to the University of Texas swim team. Before that, however, the two will head to Nebraska to get their shot at swimming on a national stage.
“They’re leaving this Friday for Omaha, Nebraska,” says Athanas. “It’s a nine-day event, with 2,200 swimmers going across all events. It’s a huge event.”