Kate Lundsten isn’t much for boasting.
Lundsten, a 1978 Minnetonka High School graduate who fell in love with swimming as a child at Christmas Lake and parlayed that passion into a career in the pool, doesn’t care to talk about her high school and collegiate records or her induction into the Minnesota Swimming Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame this month.
She’s too busy passing her knowledge and love of swimming on to a new generation.
“My biggest concern always is as coaches we’re positive influences to the kids,” she said. “That really hasn’t changed, and wherever I’m coaching that’s always my desire.”
Lundsten paved the way for her career in the pool as a Skippers standout and earned a spot on Hamline University’s women’s team in 1978. She still holds the Pipers’ records for the 100 and 200 backstrokes and is on the school’s top 10 record board in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyles.
That background set the stage for more than 20 years of coaching, including four state high school championships in 10 years at Eden Prairie and the past six seasons as the Aquajets Swim Club’s head coach.
Continually helping new groups of athletes learn their way in the pool is her passion, but her attitude and willingness to help is what makes her so valued by her swimmers.
“She’s really encouraging and always wants what’s best for you,” said Amelia Schilling, a Minnetonka High School sophomore who swims for the Aquajets. “She always wants you to do well at all times.”
When Schilling feels nervous before swims, she said Lundsten is there with encouraging words.
“If I have an issues I can always talk to her because she’s really easy to talk to,” Schilling said.
It’s a gift Lundsten has when it comes to coaching the sport she loves, and it’s not exclusive to current swimmers. Kim Dahlgren, a former Aquajets assistant under Lundsten who still has two children swimming for the club, said she asks Lundsten for advice in her new position as a Chanhassen High School girls assistant coach.
“She’s a very good mentor,” Dahlgren said. “I learned a lot from coaching with her. If I have a question, I’ll ask Kate.”
In six years with the Aquajets, Lundsten has enjoyed coaching a competitive group of swimmers—current team member Rachel Bootsma set the 100 backstroke national record during the high school season—as well as a competitive schedule. The team will travel from North Carolina to California over the next few months.
But for Lundsten, the key to success isn’t found in any one person. It’s a combination of talented people working together.
“Great people that help is a huge success,” Lundsten said. “You have to have the swimmers that do a great job. If you don’t have assistant coaches to help, I couldn’t do what I do. It’s really a team effort.”
Minnetonka residents Carolyn and Elizabeth Kane, both 16, said they can see the improvements in their own swimming techniques with the Aquajets. It all starts with Lundsten at the top.
“She’s really a great coach,” Carolyn said. “She wants the best for us.”
“It’s nice to have her background to hear what she’s saying,” Elizabeth added.
In reality, Lundsten doesn’t need to boast about her Hall of Fame credentials. Give her swimmers a chance and they’ll do it for her.
“It’s really amazing,” Schilling said. “I’m really honored to have her as my coach. It’s so cool.”