PAWLEYS ISLAND, SIMPSONVILLE—Two young swimmers have made a serious splash this summer.
Patrick Sullivan, 12, of Pawleys Island, won big in the 11-12 boys division at the South Carolina Swimming Long Course State Championship in late July at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Katrina Konopka, 14, of Simpsonville, was victorious at the YMCA Long Course Nationals in Atlanta.
He brought home gold medals in the 50-meter backstroke, the 50 and 100 meter freestyle, and tied for first in the 50 meter butterfly. He also took second in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke, fourth in the 100 butterfly, sixth in 200 and 400 meter freestyle, and scored the third highest individual points in his age group.
He is the son of Scott and Ellen Sullivan of Pawleys Island who attend Precious Blood of Christ Church, where Mrs. Sullivan is parish coordinator.
Katrina Konopka, 14, of Simpsonville, was victorious at the YMCA Long Course Nationals in Atlanta. She claimed first in the 50, 100 and 200 meter individual freestyle races, plus earned four gold medals and one silver in relay events.
Her relay times also set new national YMCA records, and her 50 freestyle qualified her for the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha.
She is a daughter of Brian and Karen Konopka, who attend St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville.
Their success in the pool doesn’t come easy. It’s a result of hours of daily practice and exercise that only become more challenging when school starts.
Patrick said he started swimming at age six and now swims for the Coastal Aquatic Club in Myrtle Beach. He practices two hours a day, six days a week, averaging about 7,000 yards each session.
“Swimming is challenging because you have to rely on yourself more than other people,” he said. “You have to be able to get the job done.”
Katrina swims for Middle Tyger Y in Duncan, and practices for two-and-a-half hours six days a week, with Sundays off. She started competing at age 8.
“I’ve just always had fun with swimming,” she said. “You’re an individual but you’re still on a team. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Faith plays a big part in their lives. Their families attend Mass together even when on the road. Patrick said he prays often, especially before a meet. During practice, Katrina said she will sing a song based on the Divine Mercy chaplet because it inspires her.
Both swimmers say they’d like to continue through high school and college, and their parents don’t doubt their determination.
“We always tell Katrina you have to be thankful you have this talent, and she’s always been very focused,” Karen Konopka said. “She sets these goals for herself and meets them, and we’re just amazed.”
One key to their success might be the fact that both Patrick and Katrina live well-rounded lives outside the pool. She takes part in school chorus and the Rosary Club, and he enjoys watching sports, playing video games and reading.