Norwin swimmer Painter headed to Kentucky
When Norwin senior swimmer Kathryn Painter visited the campus of the University of Kentucky, she knew she wanted to be part of Big Blue Nation.
The defending WPIAL Class AAA champion in the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley signed her letter of intent with the Wildcats last week, choosing Kentucky over Ohio State and Penn State.
“I loved everything about it,” Painter said. “There wasn’t anything I didn’t like. The coaches were amazing and I fell in love with the campus when I visited.”
She said she plans to go into the pre-physician assistant program when she arrives in Lexington in the fall.
The Wildcats are a member of the Southeastern Conference. The team is coached by former Olympian Lars Jorgensen and competes in the Lancaster Aquatic Center. The Kentucky women’s team finished 10th at the 2014 SEC Conference Championships.
“I have wanted to compete at the college level since I realized that you could,” Painter said. “It is a relief to have the decision out of the way and now I can focus on working towards the next level.”
A swimmer since she was 5 years old, Painter said she has matured in her swimming technique during her high school career.
“I use to muscle through my strokes,” Painter said. “Now I am more technical. I’m not perfect but I am working to get there.”
As a junior, Painter set meet records – and school records – in the 500 free and 200 individual medley at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships. She would break those school records later in the year.
At last season’s WPIAL Class AAA championships, Painter had a career day by winning the 200-yard individual medley (2:02.69) and the 500-yard freestyle (4:56.48). She was also part of a 400-yard free style relay that finished fourth and advanced to states.
She was the first WPIAL champion for Norwin since Ryan Smrekar in 2009.
“It was amazing,” said Painter, who also swims for the Norwin Aqua Club. “I was happy to finish first in both of my races but I was really happy to be able to go to states with my team. It was an amazing experience.”
At the PIAA championships, Painter finished second in both of the individual races – missing the top spot in the 500 by under two seconds and the 200 IM by four. With both state champions from last season graduating, Painter might be on her way to her greatest achievement yet.
“I am really motivated to get my first state gold medal,” Painter said. “I will have to wait and see what happens.”