Katelynn Coons, 15, is a sophomore on the Lakewood Ranch High girls swim team. Coons anchored the Mustangs' 200 medley (1:47.70, fourth place) and 200 freestyle (1:38.76, seventh place) relays at the state championships last season, and is expected to do so again this season, in addition to swimming the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. She finished second in the 50 free (25.83) at the Tri-County Championships on Oct. 7.
How long have you been swimming?
I've been swimming for 10 years. My dad (Jim Coons) got me into it, he used to be a swimmer himself.
What is the appeal of swimming to you?
It's the team. Being close with all my teammates and getting to race with them is my favorite thing.
What is your favorite swimming memory?
Making my first FLAGS (Florida Age Group Championships) cut. I was 11 years old and it was in the 50 freestyle long course at the North Port YMCA. It was the first time I realized I could go places in this sport and compete with the best.
What are your goals for this postseason run?
I want to go to states in my individual events. Last year, I only made states in my relays.
What is your favorite event to swim?
The 50 freestyle. It's my best individual event. I love sprinting and leaving everything out there, giving the race your all.
What hobbies do you have?
I race BMX bikes at Sarasota BMX. I practice three times a week, and race a few times a month. I used to race more, but I'm focusing on swimming as my main sport right now.
What career do you want to have in the future?
I want to be a pediatrician. My grandmother (Nancy Coons) was a nurse, and I've always wanted to follow her path into the medical field. Plus, I like being around kids.
What is your dream vacation?
I want to go to Hawaii and spend time fishing and hiking. I want to explore the forest and find things to do.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
My dad always says, "Don't let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do." People will doubt you can accomplish your dreams, but you can't listen to them.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your athletic career?
When I was younger, swimming came naturally to me. I could mess around at practice and then go set a personal best time. Now, it doesn't work like that. I've had to learn to be consistent and block out distractions, or else I won't get anywhere I want to go.
Finish this sentence: "Katelynn Coons is ... "
Can I change the 'is' to 'does not?' I would say, Katelynn Coons does not give up her goals. In swimming, if I don't accomplish a goal, it makes me work harder to achieve it next race.