Fenwick junior Catie Wallace always knew that she would be involved in water sports.
Her parents John and Sandra swam and played water polo in high school, while her sister Brittany competes in both sports at Carthage College after a successful career with the Friars.
“My family has always been in aquatics,” Catie Wallace said. “I just followed in their footsteps. They’ve all been a big influence.”
Wallace counts a bunch of people as making positive influences on her swimming success.
She joins Katie Vulich and Theresa Mullen as the only returning state qualifiers for the Friars, who placed third at state a year ago. Wallace teamed with graduated standouts Paulina Kaminski, Maggie Sheean and Mimi Schneider, who swims at Texas, to place second in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“Honestly, I never thought I’d ever get to that point in my swimming career,” Wallace said. “I never thought I’d get to swim with amazing teammates and make it on the podium, especially as a sophomore.
“Last year definitely motivated me to try and do better and accomplish what some of the seniors accomplished. The seniors taught me how to bring the team together and push through challenges and come together as a team.”
Mullen also collected a state medal last season. She teamed with graduated Colleen Barron, Adelaide Curry and Sheean to place eighth in the 200 free relay.
“It was so much fun and a wonderful experience,” Mullen said. “It’s given me motivation to experience all of that again. I was close with all of the seniors and I miss them a lot. They taught me to keep working hard through all the hard stuff because it will pay off.”
Wallace and Mullen talk to each other often about what they can do to help their team succeed.
“I love Catie,” Mullen said. “We motivate each other. Doing well [at state] is something that is usually on our minds throughout practices. We try to help the younger swimmers out as much as we can.”
Wallace has experienced what a positive influence can do for an athlete and she and Mullen are trying to bring that role to the team.
“Together we’re trying to work to bring the whole team together,” Wallace said. “[Mullen’s] a great leader, always trying to push everyone else in practice and trying to motivate us to do things we don’t want to do.”
Fenwick coach Renee Miller has been impressed by how Wallace, Mullen and Vulich have climbed out of the shadows of the immensely talented senior class.
“They’ve stepped up having the opportunity,” Miller said. “They’ve really tried to balance the nervousness of being the guy and not relying on Mimi. It was exciting for them to get the opportunity to swim behind Mimi. They learned a lot and now it’s their opportunity to step in and shine. Training with [the senior class] last year, they know what it takes.”