Nadia Prater cools down after a 50-meter freestyle heat on Sept. 11 at the Snohomish Aquatic Center. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Nadia Prater cools down after a 50-meter freestyle heat on Sept. 11 at the Snohomish Aquatic Center. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

5 Things to Know with Cascade girls swimming’s Nadia Prater

The Bruins’ senior has battled pre-race anxiety and injuries, and wants to be an ER surgeon.

One of Cascade senior swimmer Nadia Prater’s main strengths in the pool is her versatility.

“She’s made (the 4A) state meet every year in a variety of events, from the 50-meter freestyle up to the 500 freestyle and relays,” Cascade coach Eric Smith said. “She’s a workhorse. She can handle a phenomenal workload. She can crank out yards at a blistering pace and hold that pace. She holds water like nobody’s business, she’s got a lot of speed, she’s a technical swimmer and she’s coachable.”

Prater began swimming competitively at age 8 for the Snohomish Stingray Swim Team, and has been a member of the South Snohomish County Dolphins since she was 12.

Here are five things to know about Prater:

She’s recovered from a series of serious arm injuries. As a sophomore, Prater was diagnosed with rotator cuff impingement, bursitis in her left shoulder and two dislocated shoulder blades. “The injuries sparked a lot of things in me that made me want to quit swimming,” she said. “I was frustrated, and scared that I wouldn’t be able to put up the same times I was before (getting hurt). I felt so useless, but I finally came to terms with the fact that my body needed to rest. Coach Smith didn’t get mad at me for being injured. He understood (my situation), and helped my recovery by teaching me patience.”

She’s learning to play water polo. Last summer, Prater joined a girls water polo team consisting mostly of Snohomish and Glacier Peak students at the Snohomish Aquatic Center. “I had never done a team sport before. A lot of people told me it would be like swimming, but it’s nothing like swimming,” Prater said. “It was rough. The first couple weeks of practice I had so many bruises and scratches. I love being on a team. There’s less pressure. There’s a lot of strategy, but not in the same way that swimming has strategy. I liked opening up to something new. It’s been a lot of fun.”

She’s finding ways to overcome her anxiety. “At one point it got so bad I’d play online games just to get used to (interacting with) other people,” she said. “Even at swim meets I get so anxious. If anybody’s timing me, I start shaking and get nauseous, and I’ve developed certain habits because of it. I know what I need to do to lessen it. It sounds ridiculous, but I go up to my lane about 15 minutes before I’m scheduled to race. I’m there and ready to go in case anything happens.”

She’s a full-time college student. Last year she was selected to join the Ocean Research College Academy, an early college program for high school students at Everett Community College that focuses on marine sciences. “(The program) has opened up new opportunities for my education,” Prater said. “We spend a lot of time out on a research vessel, taking samples, then analyzing (our findings) in research papers. Since there’s only 20 or so students per class, and sometimes even fewer, I get to be one-one-one with my teacher a lot, and that’s really helped with my learning.”

She plans to study medicine. She’s leaning toward attending Washington State University and majoring in biology, then heading to medical school. “When I took my first biology course, then did my first dissection, I knew I wanted to go into surgery,” Prater said. “I want to be a trauma surgeon, work in an emergency room. I do pretty well under pressure. That’s what swimming has taught me. I feel that since that’s one of my strengths, I’d be a good fit in an ER. I’m also interested in the Doctors Without Borders (program).”

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