Confident Strokes

The past four years have gone by as fast as she swam the 50 freestyle and even though every year was different, each was been equally rewarding.Senior Erica Tate came to TCU as a highly acclaimed high school swimmer and continued her winning tradition throughout her collegiate career. The Grapevine native was a state champion, Swimmer of the Year, team MVP and captain all of which would eventually help her swim into the record books at TCU.

Tate’s legacy would begin her freshman year when she and her teammates won the Conference USA championship.

“That was exciting because I got to be on some of the main relays,” Tate said. “Anchoring as a freshman was really exciting and rewarding, but nerve-wracking too.”

Using this experience, Tate continued to try and break the school records in her three main events: the 50-freestyle, 100-freestyle and 100-butterfly. Every year Tate said she would set her goals high and eventually she would reach them.

Rewriting the record books

During her sophomore year, Tate achieved one of her goals when she broke a 14-year-old TCU record by swimming the 100-fly in 55.41 seconds at the Texas Invitational. That same season Tate would be named Conference USA Swimmer of the Week in November and earn three all-conference honors. She was also named TCU’s Most Valuable Swimmer in post-season honors.

“She definitely matured and improved in our program,” said head coach Richard Sybesma.

Tate matured even more breaking a record in the 100-free with a time of 50.83 seconds at the Mountain West Conference Championships her junior year. She was named MWC Swimmer of the Week twice and earned TCU’s Most Valuable Swimmer for the second year in a row.

This year, Tate finished her collegiate career on top, breaking the 50-free school record with a time of 23.17 seconds at the Mountain West Conference Championships. She was named MWC Swimmer of the Week in November and was recently earned All-Mountain West Conference honors in her three individual events.

Tate said accomplishing these feats was exciting individually but there was also the feeling of becoming closer to her teammates and learning from them past four years

“I’ve learned so much,” Tate said. “How we can push each other and motivate each other, even solving problems within the pool that we need to fix as a team to get ourselves together and be the team we know we can.”

Oh captain, my captain

During meets Tate wasn’t always one to get loud, but swimmers could feel her presence speak through her swimming.

“Erica is a quiet leader, she lets her swimming speak,” Sybesma said. “She’s not real vocal but if you’re not doing things the right way, she will let you know immediately.”

Freshman Natalie Melenric, who swam on relay teams with Tate, said Tate also helped to calm nerves before races.

“She was good about making things lighthearted, so there was not so much pressure,” Melenric said. “She did it her own way.”

Melenric also said Tate was a good senior captain in the fact that she took the time out to show around the new freshmen and make sure everything was going alright.

“You think of the typical senior stereotype of acting like they rule the school, but she was the complete opposite,” Melenric said.

Going through the swimming program at TCU was like being in one big family, Tate said.

“It’s like Richard (Sybesma) was my dad and Kristine (Straface) was my mom,” Tate said.

Back on dry land

It has been almost a month since she swam in her last meet, and Tate is now filling time she used to swim laps with looking for a job and finishing school work.

“I thought I’d have all this free time doing other stuff,” Tate said. “Now I’m just studying more. I’m replacing (swimming) with stuff I have to do, where at one point I had to figure out how to balance.”

With just 11 hours left to complete her advertising/public relations degree and graduate in December, Tate said the things she has learned from swimming have helped her on job interviews.

“One of the biggest things I can talk about is swimming because that’s been my job for the past four years,” Tate said. “I’ve had to learn to communicate with my coaches and teammates.”

Tate said she hopes to find a job within the sports field because sports are something she is passionate about. Her success in the future is likely to mirror that of her success and work ethic at TCU.

“Erica will be successful at anything she does,” Sybesma said. “She has a good personality, she’s funny, she makes you smile and she’s a focused hard worker.”

Her smile, leadership and being there for her teammates are what Tate said she hopes people will look back and remember her for, not just her records.

“I love being part of a team and that’s what I’d want TCU people to remember about me.