When it comes to being part of a small, relatively new athletic program, Katie Albert has a lot of experience.
The recent East Richland Christian High School graduate was the lone competitor for the Lady Lions swimming team the last several winters.
As she prepares for the next chapter in her swimming career, Albert won't be the only team member, but she'll be swimming for an Alderson-Broaddus University program that's set to begin its first season.
"I am really excited to be a part of the new program," Albert said. "East Richland Christian prepared for me these upcoming years in swimming. I learned all of the perks and disadvantages to just starting a swimming team. However, I am looking forward to actually having other teammates this time around."
Albert, who also considered Davis & Elkins, just "fell in love with the school" during a visit to the Battlers' campus in Philippi, W. Va. and decided to the commit to the Battlers.
"From the available courses to the swim program, and coach, I knew that (Alderson-Broaddus) was where I wanted to go," Albert said.
Albert had an impressive senior season in which she scored at the Division II district meet at Ohio State in both the 100 and 200 freestyles. At the sectional, she was third in the 200 free and fourth in the 100 to earn her way to the district.
A multiple-year placer in the OVAC meet, Albert was the conference's silver medalist in the 200 freestyle and bronze medalist in the 50 freestyle this past season. Along with the freestyles, Albert was also highly proficient in the butterfly.
Albert's fine season didn't go unnoticed. She was named swimmer of the year in the OVAC for Classes 1A-3A. She was also twice named to the all-Times Leader swim team.
"My high school swim experience was a wonderful and unique growing opportunity for me," Albert said. "I grew as a swimmer and in my relationship with my mom (Beth), who was my coach. I really appreciate all of the sacrifices she made in order for me to be successful."
Albert's season didn't end with high school competition. She then swam for a YMCA team and recorded personal-best times of 2:04.75 in the 200 free; 56.96 in the 100 free and 26.41 in the 50 free.
Leading the way for East Richland Christian, which is still relatively new as an OHSAA and OVAC member, was a big honor for Albert.
"It was great being able to represent such a small, Christian school and show others that it's possible for schools like mine to be successful."
As she preps for her next four seasons of swimming, Albert knows weight training will become a bigger part of her training. She's also totally open to what events she may compete in for the Battlers.
"I'm looking forward to helping the team in any events they need me in," Albert said. "But, I am hoping some of those include the 200 freestyle and butterfly."
Albert received the CONSOL Scholarship through the OVAC at last month's Banquet of Champions.
Albert, who graduated as salutatorian with a 4.2 grade point average, is still undecided about her major. However, she's considering communications or something in mathematics.
Katie is the daughter of Nassif and Beth Albert.