Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Athlete Spotlight: Caitlin Tycz, Record Breaking Maine Swimmer on the Rise

Caitlin Tycz is a fifteen-year old elite swimmer who I've had the pleasure of knowing for the past ten years. When my youngest tried the swim team for a couple of years I was honored to watch her swim the butterfly. Even in elementary school, she sliced through the water like a dolphin causing me to ask her for some butterfly stroke tips. Sadly, even her wise words about arm release and breathing couldn't help what my family calls my "dying frog" stroke. Caitlin was listed in the December 11, 2014 PORTLAND PRESS HERALD as one of ten Maine female swimmers to watch. She is the "Defending Class A 50 freestyle champ and runner-up in 100 butterfly who had third-best time in 100 free and backstroke." I'm so pleased she agreed to share some of her thoughts on swimming competitively, records, athlete health, pressure, and of course books. Caitlin, welcome to Sporty Girl Books!

Fill us in on the last year. What are some of your recent swimming highlights?

I have had a very successful year, and have accomplished more than I ever thought I would. Last year at our High School Championships, my time in the 100 yard butterfly was fast enough to qualify me for an All-American status. This was a great honor, and only added to the excitement of that meet. Overall, the Brunswick girls placed second, which was a big surprise. This year in high school swimming, I am currently ranked first in all eight events for Class A Girls. Right now, my time in the 100 yard butterfly is ranked fourth in the country for fifteen year old girls in the USA Swimming League. I am very proud of my achievements, but I am always looking forward to improve instead of dwelling on my past.

​Wow. That's so exciting. It must take a lot of work to get to that level of competition. ​What does a normal week of training look like for you? Do you ever get an off season? 

During the winter season, I compete on both the Long Reach Swim Club (a Y team) and the Brunswick High School team. This means I have at least two workouts a day​--​sometimes more. A normal week usually has five​-​one and a half hour Long Reach practices, and three or four high school practices. On days that I don’t have high school practice, we will have high school meets. I also train with my personal trainer three times a week. On weekends, I usually have one meet with Long Reach. I compete in both a summer and winter league, so my off season is very short. I usually take off a couple weeks in May and all of August, but I continue to be active.

In the Girls 15-16 100 fly at the Bowdoin Open in December 2014, you swam a time of 54.39 breaking the old record of 54.88 set by Coby Harvey (CMA) in 2013. But this just one in a line of many record breaking swims for you. Two years ago at the 2012 Long Reach Swim Club’s Sprint Meet on June 30, 2012, you broke the Girls’ 11-12 100 yard Back, the Girls’ 11-12 100 yards IM, the previous 100 yard Back and the 100 yard IM. How do you approach the idea of record times? Are you thinking about the old record as you swim or are you focusing on your personal best? How does record breaking affect your training?

When I swim, I focus only on what I can control. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your times just don’t reflect what you are expecting. In general​,​ records are always something that all athletes shoot for​;​ it’s something to base your goals on. On a day to day basis, I try to think about the process of getting to these goals, instead of how challenging they might be. I am fortunate enough for these records to be manageable goals, and work everyday to keep improving. Even though these goals can be very stressful, I work to always find the fun in whatever I have to do, both in the pool and on dry land.

How do National competitions compare to State events? Have you swum on the international stage yet? If not, is that in the plans? Tell me a little about your swimming goals.

National competitions and State competitions are very different, but I think both are important to my swimming. Maine Swimming is overall a very small organization, which makes the whole experience feel like a family. This makes meets fun, and I have definitely made lifelong friends through the sport. On a National level, however, everyone there is challenging you for a spot in the finals. Its definitely more stressful, but as I become more experienced, I am learning how to cope with these differences. Last January, I competed in a meet in Austin, Texas which was an international meet. This was the biggest competition I have attended, and it was an eye opening experience. I was surrounded by National champions, Olympians from other countries, and even some of Team USA’s finest. This was an amazing experience, and being there helped me realize that my biggest goal is to be on Team USA. This goal is a little far fetched, but I continue to make smaller, more manageable goals.

In August you swam in an event that was televised? Tell me about the competition and how ​you did​? How did the TV coverage change the experience for you?

Over the summer I swam in Indianapolis at YMCA Long Course Nationals. I have been competing this meet for the past four years, and I have really enjoyed it. Although I didn’t perform to the high standard I set for myself in some of my events, I exceeded my expectations in the 50 meter butterfly. This year my time in the 50 meter butterfly was fast enough to qualify for a final swim. This means I was one of the top ten fastest time in that event. I knew this was an important meet for me, which made me really nervous. Of course, the cameras and crowds didn’t help, but I tried to ignore that. Overall, those National meets are a great learning experience for me, which will help my ability to succeed later.

This Tweet from you @CaitlinTycz made me laugh. 
Staying healthy is a big concern for me, considering my body and mind is the building blocks for my swimming. Since I am constantly wearing myself down, I need to stay as healthy as possible. With my busy schedule, sometimes it can be really difficult for me to find time to sleep and let myself rest. I always try to find fifteen to twenty minutes before I go to bed to just relax and reflect on the day. During the winter when my schedule is at its busiest, I tend to sleep a little less than I normally do. I also need to stay mentally healthy. If I’m not mentally ready to train and race, there’s no I way I can succeed. Even though swimming takes up a majority of free time, I always try to balance my time. Family, friends, school and being mentally relaxed always comes before swimming. Without any time set away for relaxation, the anxiety of swimming would take over my life.

Tell us about other sports that interest you. How would/do these other athletic pursuits compliment your swimming goals?

Honestly, I’ve never really been that interested in other sports. When I was younger, I did ballet and gymnastics, but never loved it as much as swimming. I commit all my time to swimming, and it’s hard to see myself doing anything else. This spring, I am going to try out crew with my local association. I’m excited to branch off and try something new during my off season, and am interest​ed​ to see what this sport will have in store!

I happened to know that you have two very big dogs. Tell us about them. Do they like the water?

I have a Saint Bernard, Sophie, and a Newfoundland, Nick. My dogs love going in the ocean, rivers, and any other water they can find. They are the sweetest animals around, and I love coming home to them every night.

In addition to swimming, what other extracurricular activities do you do?

Since swimming takes up two to three hours after school and sometimes an hour before school, it’s hard to participate in any after school activities. I do play the flute in the band at my school, which rehearses during the day. I also take any chance I get to volunteer in my community, it’s such an important part of my life.

You get tons of homework, you're musical, you swim... are you ever able to read for fun? If so, what books are your recent faves or what books are on your To Be Read pile.

Even though I have a busy schedule, I always try to find some time for reading. I have always loved reading, and I don’t want my other activities to lead me away from it. Some of my favorite recent books are We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowe, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Looking for Alaska by John Green, and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. My To Be Read pile seems never ending, and is a always growing. The Vacationers by Emma Straub, The One & Only by Emily Griffin, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte are all books I want to read soon!!

Speed round:
Pizza or sushi? Pizza
Bike or run? Bike
Ebook or paper copy? Paper copy
Dance to loud music or talk with friends? Talk with friends
If you could be any animal what would it be? sea otter

​Good luck to Caitlin as she strives towards Team USA. ​


  1. Caitlin is one dedicated and talented athlete. I'm impressed with all her hard work and how positive she is about setting goals and working towards them. I LOVE the photos that she shared, especially the one where she and her lane are the only one is color. Caitlin has great taste in books, too. We Are Liars was one of my favorites last year. Good luck to you! And thanks for being on Sporty Girl Books!

    1. I totally agree with your comment on the photos and the books. I love how the rest of the pool is black and white! Eleanor and Park was one of my faves too.

  2. Great interview, Anna! Thanks so much Caitlin for being with us today--good luck!