When Kathleen Klein Prindle was inducted into the Northeastern Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 4 at The University of Scranton, the impact she has made on the sport of swimming was highlighted.
The fact that her grandmother, Julie Holleran Igoe, was one of the first inductees made it that much more poignant.
“It couldn’t have been more special. It was a huge honor for our family when she was inducted in 1983,” Klein Prindle said of her grandmother. “At the time, it never crossed my mind that it would happen again. I believe it’s the first time two local athletes from the same family have been inducted for the same sport.”
According to Klein Prindle, she was the only other person in the family with an interest in swimming while growing up.
“My grandmother had five children and six grandchildren, but I was the only one who had an interest in swimming,” she said. “Throughout my entire life, she has been my main influence in the sport. She taught me how to swim, then taught me how to coach.
“She passed away in 1995, but I feel connected to her every day at practice and especially during meets because of everything she taught me about the sport. To share this honor with her is special.”
The Clarks Summit native got her start in the sport as a member of the Abington Alligators AAU youth swim team.
“It was my first introduction to organized swimming,” she said. “I was very young, about 7 years old. It was an amazing environment with great coaches and it was fun just to be part of such a big team.”
Klein Prindle’s message to parents is to get their children involved in a sport.
“I think it’s critical for young people,” she said. “They will learn lessons that will help them throughout their life.”
After graduating from Scranton Prep in 1989, Klein Prindle took a step back from the sport at Penn State University.
“I decided I wanted to enjoy more of the social side of college,” she said. “It was the hardest decision of my life, but it’s one I don’t regret because it allowed me the space I needed to come back to swimming, which is my true love.”
Klein Prindle started her own swim club, Performance Aquatics in Deerfield Beach, Florida in 2011, where she has coached and trained swimmers from more than 17 countries around the world.
She geared her club toward the Olympic ideal of bringing people from different countries together for a common goal.
“I welcome athletes from all over the world,” Klein Prindle said. “It enhances their training partner, us as a group and me as a person. It exposes the athletes to different cultures and training methodologies, and makes them accepting of new cultures. There are some language barriers but we use hand signals and Google Translate. I’ve also learned to speak in terms they can understand. It’s a fun challenge.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.