Craig Catherine Swimming in a pool
Photo: Marc Hagemeier
" "
Catherine Craig ’23’s favorite event, the 200-meter breaststroke, relies on strategy —
not just speed.

Finding Her Rhythm

by Andrew Faught

Among competitive swimmers, the breaststroke is considered the toughest stroke. Arms, legs and head must pull, kick and bob in hyperkinetic sync. It’s no easy feat.

You wouldn’t know that watching Catherine Craig ’23. Craig is a breaststroke master who chews up the competition with her strong forward propulsion and smooth, streamlined glide. It’s why she was recruited to swim at Bucknell.

Explaining her success, Craig is every bit the technician. “The breaststroke is a major rhythm stroke — it takes power with timing and technique to go fast,” says the economics and psychology double-major from Mansfield, Pa. “I’ve focused a lot on counting my strokes and making sure that I time my walls so that I’m not too far away or cutting off a stroke. But I don’t always count during races because sometimes I just want to be present in the pool and go for it.”

It’s an approach that’s served her well as a Bison. The two-time All-Patriot League honoree holds the swim program’s second-fastest 200 breaststroke (2:14.23) and the fourth-fastest 100 breaststroke (1:03.76). She also holds the fourth-fastest 400 individual medley (4:20.66) — thanks to her speediness on the race’s third leg. (You guessed it — the breaststroke.) Her speed helped lead the women’s swimming team to a nail-biting second- place finish at last year’s Patriot League Championships.

Craig has been swimming since age 6, when her parents enrolled her and her sister in a summer league swim team. While she has competed in all strokes, the breaststroke, particularly the 200, is her favorite event.

She notes the sprint mindset of the 100 and explains that the 200 “gives you a lot more control in the race.”

“You can take it into your hands. You can decide to go after it right from the first 50, or you might not. There’s a lot of strategy in the longer races.”

During the season, Craig trains 20 hours per week. Outside the pool, she is a member of the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute and its Igniting Leaders program, which brings together student-athletes to discuss topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion, and how to bring those values to their teams.

“I’ve learned that there is not a one-size-fits-all style for leading and that people respond differently to different styles of communication,” she says. “I definitely aspire to be a leader as I move forward in life.”

At Bucknell, Craig has taken advantage of undergraduate research opportunities by studying the effects of COVID-19 on the nursing industry. She worked with Professor Christine Ngo, economics, in summer 2021 to interview nurses around Lewisburg about stressors they faced during a pandemic. The study explored policy options for improving working conditions for rural health care professionals.

“The common themes were that nurses were overworked, tired and burned out, and a lot of them felt unsupported by management throughout the lockdown phase of the pandemic,” says Craig, who is considering pursuing graduate studies in health care or public health.

Until then, Craig is focused on her senior season. She’s keeping her goals simple and meaningful. “I’m just hoping to soak it in and enjoy the last moments,” she says. “I love swimming for Bucknell, and I love my teammates. I just want to love every moment and every race.”

Headshot of Catherine Craig

Instant Replay

Career highlight
Being part of the Bison women’s team that won second place in the 2022 Patriot League Swimming Championships.
Well-honed instincts
“I’ve raced a lot, so I know what the tempo and rhythm should feel like at each point of the race.”
Strong suits
“My kick is probably better than my pull, but you have to have both to make it cohesive.”
Finding inspiration
“I’m heavily motivated by my teammates and coaches. When I see them excited for my races, it makes me want to do well for them.”