Hailing from the forests of Simsbury, Conn., sophomore Katelin Isakoff has emerged as one of the most integral members of the Tufts swimming team. Both setting records in the pool and thriving in the biology and community health classrooms, she has proven herself to be one of the brightest stars not just in the world of swimming but across the entire Tufts campus.
Her interest in swimming emerged at the age of 6. The nature of her swimming evolved as she got older when she joined the West Hartford Aquatic Team, known by the acronym WHAT. Through this, she fell in love with swimming’s individuality.
“I had the opportunity to challenge myself. [Swimming] gave me something to work towards,” Isakoff said. Through swimming, she could “push [herself] to a point but also see success.” This was a combination that provided the catalyst for a lifetime passion.
“I never thought about not swimming in college,” Isakoff said. “Swimming became such a big part of who I was and my daily routine.”
Isakoff’s story as one of the most talented swimmers on campus may be unique, but her gravitation to Tufts was shared among other athletes. She noted that what made her feel an immediate attraction to Tufts was the people.
“Everyone on the team was so different and each one brought something unique to the environment,” Isakoff said. “It was inspiring to see all the different personalities and interests come together in one space … Everyone was really welcoming … they wanted you to succeed.”
Swimming became an integral part of Isakoff’s daily schedule at Tufts; with a community of support behind her, it was easy to hit the ground running. Swimming different strokes each day with people from different class years created an environment that allowed for both personal growth and team unity.
“There’s a lot more support during practice,” Isakoff said. “When you walk in that door, there’s someone who’s going to make you feel like you have a purpose … That was really special, just having that validation.”
From this environment, Isakoff’s status as a swimmer quickly ascended to new heights. As a first-year, she was selected for the NESCAC conference team, swimming in the NESCAC championships after an exciting dual meet season. She swam everything from the 500 freestyle, the 200 freestyle and the 200 butterfly, in addition to all her relay races. At the NESCAC championships itself, the relay was where Isakoff had one of her most memorable experiences as she and the rest of the Tufts women’s swimming 400 free relay team broke Williams’ 29-year winning streak of the event. After a conference season of unprecedented success, she had the distinction of qualifying for the NCAA championships, being one of 12 swimmers on the team to do so. Of course, the pandemic put a staunch roadblock on these meets, which was a devastating experience, according to Isakoff. However, Isakoff had a lot to be proud of as, along with being named an All-American and a Scholar All-American, she pushed the women’s team to be No. 2 in the NESCAC and No. 5 in the country.
Coming from a sport that can often be so individualized, what Isakoff has learned the most from her time as a Tufts swimmer is that what is most important in life is the people one is surrounded by.
“No matter what you’re doing, the people you are doing it with matter so much more,” she said.