By Jason Marsteller
PHOENIX, Arizona, October 11. AFTER a breakout summer that included three medals at the FINA World Youth Championships in Brazil, Caitlin Leverenz proved herself to be one of the brightest future stars in the breaststroke and individual medley for the U.S. Earlier this month, Leverenz garnered a spot on the 2007 Pan American Games team that will bring her back to Brazil from July 17-22.
Leverenz put together her best performance at World Youth on the strength of a strong breaststroke leg during the 200 I.M. The 15-year-old from Tucson, Ariz., pocketed gold with a 2:14:45 to defeat France’s Camille Muffat by nearly a second. Leverenz also competed in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events at World Youth, earning bronze medals in both races.
“The whole experience (at World Youth) was amazing,” Leverenz said. “Everything about the meet is still sinking in for me. I was in awe of the whole meet. There were so many different countries there, and the overall international experience was great. We also had a small team. So, I got to know them really well.”
Leverenz went on to speak about the learning opportunities provided by the World Youth experience.
“I really had a chance to learn how international meets are run,” Leverenz said. “I had gone to Melbourne with the National Junior Team before, but that meet only had a few countries. World Youth was definitely run differently with so many countries there. I learned what it was like to be around so many different people.”
Just like pretty much every other elite-level swimmer, Leverenz found her way to the sport due to a thoughtful parent. Jeannine, Caitlin’s mother, put her brother Derek and Caitlin on a summer league team shortly after Caitlin turned seven. Initially, Caitlin swam on the team just to get some exercise, but really found a love for the sport at the time. She started swimming year round when she turned eight. The complete commitment of her mother is not overlooked by Caitlin, when asked who has impacted her the most.
“My mom and I have a real close relationship,” Leverenz said. “I will tell her everything. She really helps me through the hard times, by going above and beyond to help me do what I love to do.”
Leverenz also credits her coach, Franz Resseguie of the El Dorado Aquatic Club, for her personal development.
“My coach is always there for me,” Leverenz said. “He can always sense when I am having a hard time, and says that when that is happening that I can always talk to him about it. He is very open to talk to, and is very good in knowing where I am in my training and where I need to be. He has provided a lot of help for me, and I am glad that I have him as my coach.”
Other people that have had an impact on Leverenz’s progression as a swimmer include world-class breaststrokers Tara Kirk and Megan Jendrick.
“I used to have people I idolize, and it was weird seeing them in meets,” Leverenz said when asked who she looked up to in the sport of swimming. “Right now, I really look up to Tara Kirk and Megan Jendrick. The fact I get to know them is even better and even cooler.”
While Leverenz may be on the cusp of some great things in the breaststroke world, she still goes through the same trials and tribulations of every other competitive swimmer.
“If you love swimming, stick with it,” Leverenz said when we solicited her advice to other swimmers. “(Swimming) can be really hard, and it can be exhausting. It is hard to wake up early in the mornings, and hard to work your butt off every time you go. But, if you love it, it is worth working for every day.”
Leverenz also spoke to SwimmingWorldMagazine.com about her favorite sets and drills.
“I specifically like the I.M. sets, because I am an IMer,” Leverenz said. “However, I like changing it up a bit, and pretty much enjoy whatever my coaches put up on the board. As for my favorite drills, I like doing drills for breaststroke, because that it my main event. My coach and I work on timing drills a lot for breaststroke.”