January Athlete of the Month: Katherine Blake


Photo Courtesy of Katherine Blake

Katherine Blake swims butterfly in the girls 200 IM

Juliette Bolte, Sports Writer

Senior and varsity swim captain Katherine Blake has shown consistency in being a stand-out athlete all four years at RM. `Blake is the reigning Maryland state champion in 2020 in the girls 200 IM, also achieving second in the 500 Free that year. On top of many other achievements, Blake broke a 13 year old team record in the 200 IM and ranks seventh in MCPS in that event all-time. 

Being a team captain requires more than just athletic ability, and Blake demonstrates all the qualities necessary for the role. “She’s definitely a natural-born leader,” junior Sophia Burton said. “She’s very inclusive and she tries to get everyone involved.” By putting in the effort to learn about her teammates, Blake contributes to the growth of RM Swim as a whole. 

“What impresses me most about her as a swimmer is just her versatility,” RM Swim coach and chemistry teacher Akshay Gandhi said. “She is really open to trying some new events, and she usually kicks a lot of butt when she does try a new event.”

  Despite specializing in distance freestyle and the IM, Blake’s ability to leave her comfort zone and still perform at her best is one of many traits that sets her apart from other swimmers. “I can put her in a sprint and expect her to do really well,” Gandhi said. “Even though that’s probably her least favorite.” 

Blakes teammates, who have seen her dedication firsthand, also praise her tenacity and commitment. “She’s very hardworking,” Burton said. “She puts in the effort, she is very determined, and she truly cares about swimming.” 

Blake sees both her results and her relationship with her team to be incredibly rewarding aspects of swimming. “My favorite memory was my sophomore year Maryland State meet,” Blake said. “I ended up winning an event, and the whole atmosphere of my friends around me cheering for me was probably one of the best experiences of my life.”

In addition to the positive experiences, Blake has had to deal with setbacks throughout her swimming career. “I think the biggest challenge I face is just time management, especially when you get into high school,” Blake said. “Swimming just happens to be one of those things that have a lot of demands. I get up early to swim in the morning and then I swim in the afternoon, so it’s just hard to budget my time out.”

Although all athletes face challenges, only some athletes are able to see opportunities for improvement. Learning to find a balance between school and swimming allowed Blake to push past and grow from this barrier. “It’s all about staying organized and asking for help when you need it because it’s really important to try to stay on top of things,” Blake said. “And if you need help, acknowledge it and get help because your coaches and your teachers are here for you in the end.”

Even so, Blake can sympathize with swimmers struggling to stay motivated or improve. “I’ve definitely had those tough times and I’ve definitely questioned if I wanted to keep doing it and if I was really committed to the sport,” Blake said. She credits the supportive atmosphere of RM Swim with keeping her going, and suggests that swimmers learn to value their teammates. “If you think about those people as friends and the people that are there for you, not just the people you swim next to or in a lane with, you’ll love the sport and you’ll just feel motivated,” Blake said.