One performance and one decision can go a long way in dictating a career. Indiana University junior Kim Tracey, arrived at Bloomington following an All-American career at .
Tracey was a linchpin in various events during an illustrious prep career. A slew of college coaches, however, had Tracey pigeonholed as a staple in the back stroke the moment she arrived at Indiana University.
During a quick move that took just a little bit of scouting and observation, Tracey was urged to transfer her talents to the IM races.
She's made an immediate impact, recently reaping the rewards of becoming a workout fiend. Tracey has established an individual high-water mark, qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 200 and 400 meter IM. And so re-testing the waters ended up proving prophetic for Tracey.
"I got to college and they actually told me 'you'll never do IM again, you're just doing back stroke that's all you are focusing on," said Tracey, who selected Indiana over potential Division-I suitors Bucknell, UConn, Eastern Carolina and Maryland, hell-bent on evolving into a big fish in a big pond.
"My first year, I did mediocre at the Big Ten championships that February. Then, I want to say the beginning of the summer after my freshman year, I was told IM could be my event. My head coach, Ray Looze, and some of the other coaches got a training program together for me. I've been doing IM ever since, it's my best event now by far. My two trial cuts are in both IMs, it's a lot more yardage."
Looze has helped guide the Hoosiers to three of the last four Big Ten championships. He's emerged into the first-ever coach to lead men's and women's teams to top-10 NCAA finishes, a feat Looze accomplished back in 2008.
Tracey discovered her niche in the back stroke early on in her collegiate career. As a sophomore last season, Tracey clocked a 2:07.40 in the 200-meter backstroke as Indiana renewed hostilities with longtime blood rival Purdue. She chipped away at the time, cutting it to 2:06.96 to place seventh overall at Northwestern. In the 200 back at the Big Ten Championships, Tracey established a new personal record with a time of 1:59.53.
As a highly-touted recruit in high school, swimming consumed Tracey. She played a significant role for the Northern Westchester-based Marlins, a club team which swims all year.
During the latter stages of her career at Briarcliff, Tracey decided to join the Badgers out of nearby Larchmont. A reputable program with a high-order commitment, Tracey evolved into the face of the Badgers.
The program thrived on the club team circuit. She culminated her career as an All-American in the 100 back stroke, earning four consecutive berths in the New York State championship. Tracey additionally a national short course qualifier in the 100 back.
In high school meets, Tracey was known for her versatility. She embraced the role of jack-of-all-trades, a swimmer who could stamp her imprint in multiple events. Her versality allowed her to rack up points where they were needed.
"I did some butterfly, 400 fly, and a little bit of IM in high school too," she said. "I actually thought that was my best thing. I was never great at anything. I was good, but I never stood out at anything like the back stroke or the fly. So I said, 'if I'm pretty good at everything, why don't I try IM?' That would be the best event to get into."
After being nurtured as one of the program's featured swimmers in the back stroke for much of her freshman year, the seamless transition was made.
Naturally, Tracey had never been a long distance swimmer. Training with IU has helped build her stamina and raised the level of expectations around her. Being a swimmer at a major Division-I program, Tracey knows plenty about high-intensity meets (the pressure tends to crank up when the Hoosiers renew their regal rivalry with historic and traditional rival Minnesota).
She is grateful for the opportunity to perform on a grand stage, one which she never envisioned she would be on. She hopes to make the most of it and relish the opportunity to put the 914 region on the national scale.