"This is what we've all been working towards," Hathaway said.
The road leading to the 2001 NCAA championships was a whirlwind for Hathaway. She sets her alarm for 5:45 a.m. every morning except for Wednesdays, when Hathaway gets to sleep in - until 7 a.m.
Balancing a GPA worthy of the Dean's List, a part-time internship, practice, meets and time with her loved ones has become a daily routine for Hathaway.
"She's one of those people who leads through her actions," said senior teammate Summer Mack. "She works hard and sets an example."
In addition to making waves for UNC swimming, the junior education major makes an even bigger difference in the lives of nine 2-year-olds. She interns 20 hours a week at the FPG Developmental Center.
"Even if the kids don't realize it, we are teaching them things all the time," Hathaway said.
Hathaway hopes to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher when she graduates.
Most of Hathaway's life has revolved somehow around swimming. The sport is a top priority for Hathaway's entire immediate family.
When Darcy Hathaway made Junior Nationals, Hathaway's father, Ken, retired from the Air Force and moved to Charlotte to prevent getting transferred and throwing his daughter's swimming career off track.
Darcy Hathaway went on to swim at Texas and competed in the '92 Olympic Trials.
Hathaway's brother Drew, also swims for the Tar Heels
As much as swimming is part of who Katie Hathaway is, a list of her accomplishments and goals could not capture the most valuable asset that she brings to every aspect of her life: her positive attitude.
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"It's really easy to summarize," Comfort said about Hathaway's special qualities. "Her love for the sport, her love for teammates, an understanding of commitment to the sport, just the day in, day out training that is necessary to do the job. And God-given physical talent."
Hathaway's hard work shows in competition, but her attitude is what inspires her teammates and almost anyone that happens to have a conversation with her.
"She treats everybody well," said Brad Kline, captain of the men's swimming and diving team and Hathaway's boyfriend of four years.
"As a friend, as a teammate and as a captain, she's always got a smile on her face and is looking to help others."
And almost as if to support Kline's claims, Hathaway changed her mind about what her greatest accomplishment was after thinking for a moment.
Competing in the Olympic Trials wasn't the greatest thing she's done.
"Actually my biggest accomplishment would be swimming for all these years," Hathaway said.
"And always improving and still loving it and having a great time with it. You can make the best of whatever you want."
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