Top Ten Performances: #2 Kendal Kurowski Dominates the 100 Backstroke

Adam Depmore

The physical demand it takes to swim backstroke, whether it’s a 100 or 200, is overwhelming. Putting up a solid backstroke requires the athlete vigorously spin their arms while kicking 6-8 kicks per stroke cycle. It is not a stroke for the weak of heart. Ask any world class swimmer, no stroke destroys your legs quite like backstroke.

At an early age, Kendall showed great promise in all 4 strokes, particularly in the backstroke. Kendall’s performances in the back steadily increased over time and the improvements she made were reflective in how she focused at practice and how well she performed at the championship level.

What really set Kendall apart was her ability to look within and focus on herself. While many of her peers spent most of their time looking around at others, Kendall stayed on course by keeping her head still and balanced, which in turn made it easier to perform the tasks needed to swim backstroke.

And she’s only getting started….

While she has had many “break-out” seasons, none can compare to how well she took off this last season. Her 58.52 100 back was absolute swimming brilliance. She aced this race by strategically attacking her underwaters while almost flawlessly attacking her breakouts. This mindblowing performance not only broke the team record, but lowered it by 2 seconds.

It wasn’t too long ago a 58 second 100 back could get a high school Junior or Senior recruited to a DI school. Kendall achieved this before she turned 15.

I wish there is more we could say about her swim, but what makes Kendal unique as an athlete is her ability to coach herself. In my 20 years of experience as a coach, the most incredible swimmers have a certain “X’ factor to how they train and how they swim. It is something that cannot be coached.

Many of the great coaches like Eddie Reese, Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich talk about their experience with athletes that have the “X” factor. I remember growing up watching the media interview Phil Jackson about Kobe Bryant’s unstoppable performances. It was interesting to hear him explain to the media that what Kobe has is not something that can be coached. 

Greg Popovich talked about the “X” factor in the early 2000’s when trying to explain Manu Ginoboli. It is simply something you cannot coach but rather it is just something you have to sit back and enjoy.

For the last 9 years I have enjoyed watching Kendal grow and develop into the machine she is today. I’m stoked to see how fast she has come and look forward to seeing how far she will go. 

Talk to Kendal and she will tell you, she ain’t done yet! She’s only getting started...