Don’t let her smile and easy-going personality fool you.
HRV sophomore swimmer Caitlyn Shortt is a competitor, and she’s about as fierce as they come.
“Caitlyn appears very relaxed in the pool, but when she’s racing, she’s very stubborn,” coach Kass Bergstrom said. “If someone is racing right next to her, they don’t have a chance.”
Shortt, 15, has been swimming every day since she was 11 years- old, and over the past two years, she has established herself as one of the finest aquatic talents in the Northwest — if not the nation.
She just returned from her second consecutive U.S. Open — a national qualifying event held in Long Island, N.Y. — and will compete at the Senior Nationals in Minneapolis, Minn., in March.
“The 2004 Olympics are my main goal,” Shortt said. “I’ve been working really hard the past couple years to reach Senior Nationals, and now that I’ve qualified for that, I’m focused on the next step.”
Shortt said she would also like to swim professionally some day, but that college will come first. Despite being just a sophomore, she has already targeted three top swimming programs: University of Texas, Stanford and Auburn.
“I’ve already started getting letters from different schools,” she said. “It’s fun because I know that people are out there watching me.”
But before this aspiring Olympian can think about which college she will swim for, she has some business to take care of on the homefront.
Besides being HRV’s top female swimmer, Shortt is also one of the best young talents on the Mt. Hood Swim Team, which trains three days a week in Gresham.
Eligibility for events like the U.S. Open and Senior Nationals is earned through times recorded in MHST competitions. In order to have a shot at the Olympics some day, Shortt must continue her grueling training regimen, which also includes weight training three days a week.
“It’s been hard to find time for all my homework going back and forth between Gresham every week,” she said. “But I really like both teams, so it’s nice to be able to train with my friends in Hood River a couple days a week.”
Although Shortt remains actively involved with the MHST, she also has set a few goals for the high school season.
“I really want to place top three at state this year,” she said. “And I know it’s going to take a lot of extra work to get there.”
Shortt, who finished eighth in the 200 individual medley and seventh in the 100 breast stroke at state as a freshman, has made a top-three finish her individual goal for the season.
“As long as she keeps a level head and maintains her composure, she has the talent to win state,” Bergstrom said. “She already has state experience and doesn’t get over-excited, so I would say she has a great head start for this year’s meet.”
Bergstrom also complimented Shortt on her fluid, efficient strokes, a tireless work ethic and natural ability as a team leader.
“The girls on the team really like Caitlyn and follow the example she sets in the pool,” she said. “As good a swimmer as she is, she’s just as good a person.”
But don’t forget, her gentle demeanor can be misleading. Caitlyn Shortt is a competitor through and through.
“I like the water and the competition a lot,” she said, “but basically, I just like to win.”