Ford smashes WPIAL records

Published Feb 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm (Updated Feb 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm)

Katie Ford knows that records were made to be broken. That’s one reason the Mt. Lebanon senior set out to shatter the WPIAL swimming marks for the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. That’s also the reason why she expects the times she swam during the 2014 district championships to fall some day.

“The sport is always going to keep getting faster,” explained Ford. “They are always developing new and improved ways to train. So it wouldn’t surprise me if my records were broken in a couple of years, especially by my teammates. I would love to see that.”

The Lebo contingent loved seeing Ford smash records that the Blue Devils followed her lead and finished runner-up in the team competition. North Allegheny captured its sixth straight tile with 471 points while Lebo finished second with 189 points.

Ford set the pace on the first day of competition at the University of Pittsburgh’s Trees Pool. She completed the 50 free in 23.21. She lowered the standard set in 2009 by Maggie Walker from Peters Township by .11 seconds.

“Katie was just awesome. A great swim by her,” said Lebo skipper Tom Donati. “We were looking for the record. Her goal was to win and break the record and Katie did both. She achieved her goal. She did everything she needed to do to succeed.”

Getting off the blocks quickly enabled her to succeed in the 50. During the regular season, she said that she worked on her starts.

“That was the big change to my 50,” said Ford, who won the event last year. “I hit [my start]. That was the difference. That helped me break the record. That’s what I was going for.”

When she saw her placement compared to the swimmers next to her, Ford was aware she was on record pace.

“I could see them under water,” Ford said. “I was ahead so I felt I was in a great place.”

Ford was in a better place the second day of the competition because she had the 50 win under her belt. “I was real nervous for that race,” she explained of the sprint. “After I won the 50, I was relieved. It was as if the pressure was off.”

While she was relaxed for her race, Ford was determined to set the speed in the 100 free. Instructed to take the first 25 out slowly, Ford kept building throughout the event until she touched the wall in 50.63, good enough for gold and another WPIAL mark. This time Ford broke the record set in 2013 by Morgan Soulia of North Allegheny. Soulia’s time was 50.82. In breaking the record, Ford also secured all-America honors.

“It felt great to win and set the record,” Ford admitted. “To get two WPIAL records feels great. Records are never easy to break.”

Ford concedes her standards can be broken because the sport is more physical than about the suits a swimmer wears. “It’s about all the hard work you put into it. It’s more about the work and training time you put into it,” she added.

All of Ford’s training has yielded more than WPIAL marks. The North Carolina recruit owns all but two Mt. Lebanon records although the school’s pool is new.

“We have great kids coming up and it’s important for them to see that hard work is important. I’d love to see my records broken. I want to see people get better.”

In a few weeks, Ford plans to be even better. She will be among the top seeds in the PIAA championships set for March 12-14 at Bucknell University.

“My goals at states are to be faster. Perhaps records are within my grasp,” she said with a smile.

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