The Holt family has been living in the Valley for the last seven years and the Ames Lake area before that. Their son played football for Mt. Si High, and their daughter Kaitlyn started off her school athletic career as a gymnast.
Sadly, due to a knee injury, she had to take time away from athletics, so surgery wasn’t needed to heal her knee’s growth plate and ligaments.
The injury was particularly heartbreaking for Holt as she had been doing gymnastics for 6 years, starting in the 4th grade. By the time she reached the 6th grade, she was training twenty hours a week, competing with Mt. Si gymnastics and became a level-9 gymnast before her injury in the 9th grade.
Mom Kyra Holt thinks that her daughter realized gymnastics was harder on her body than she realized but missed competing in that year. Says Kaitlyn, “Most ex-gymnasts either convert to diving or pole vaulting. So, I decided I would start looking into diving and see if my school offered it, which they didn’t.”
Kaitlyn emailed the Mt. Si coach, Patrick Stewart, and asked how to join the Girls Swim & Dive Team. It turned out; the program had never had a girl diver. It took a little effort, on the part of her parents and the school, but in the end, they all made it work.
The eventual solution was to have Valerie Berglund, the head dive coach for the Issaquah School District, partner with Mt. Si to coach Kaitlyn. A couple of weeks later, after attending a 2-hour private lesson, she started practicing at the Issaquah pool.
Says Berglund, “this was something that I was so proud to be doing because I am a Valley resident and couldn’t wait to share my knowledge with my community.”
Two days after the season started her sophomore year, the school signed a contract for Kaitlyn to train at the Issaquah pool with four other teams. Two weeks later, she won her first Meet. That first year, she qualified for the Kingco League Swim & Dive Meet, the District 2 Swim & Dive Meet, and the WIAA 4A Swim & Dive Meet. She placed 10th at the State 4A Swim and Dive Meet in her first season.
That first year, and every year since, Kaitlyn drove herself to meets as the Mt. Si team bus didn’t get her there early enough to warm up and some meets, she didn’t have a diving coach as Berglund was with other schools at other meets. Kaitlyn truly paved her way, training 10 hours a week for ten weeks. Says mom Kyra, “She doesn’t mess around.”
Kaitlyn started with a diving club to train year-round, where she gained valuable competition experience, but then Covid hit her junior year. The pandemic, according to Kaitlyn, “definitely took a toll on my training.” So, she worked out 3-4 days a week at a dryland facility because the pools were not open.
There was no State Championship that year, but she did have a season. She and Berglund were able to find an outdoor pool in Bellevue that could accommodate them with some practice times. During the Covid season, Kaitlyn met the qualifications to apply for All American Consideration.
This season, Kaitlyn returned to her normal practices and was reunited with her Issaquah, Skyline and Liberty dive teammates. All these divers encouraged each other and challenged each other to do better and work harder.
Kaitlyn’s teammate and Skyline Captain Jade Fontenelle was a driving force. The two divers were consistently placing 1st and 2nd throughout the season. Going into the KingCo Championship, Kaitlyn and her teammates took all three spots, voted on by the league coaches. Kaitlyn finished 2nd with a score of 345.95.
Next, she had to qualify for the District Swim & Dive Meet. She did and took 2nd place in the competition and qualified for the State 4A Swim & Dive Meet. Placing in the top 3 at Districts qualified her to compete at the State Meet.
On the day of the State Meet, they arrived at the pool, settled into their spot, and started warm-up. Says Berglund, “all the divers were looking calm, cool and happy.” Mt. Si swim coach Patrick Stewart and Assistant coach wife Leanne came to show their support for Kaitlyn with a homemade sign and Mt. Si’s banner; she was the only athlete competing for Mt. Si at State this year.
Throughout the first day, Kaitlyn ranged between 1st and 4th on every round of dives. She finished the first day in 1st place after completing eight dives. She returned the next day and completed her final three dives out of 11 total dives. Kaitlyn won the STATE 4A Dive Championship. The first Mount Si Diver to do so.
Berglund expressed gratitude to have a neighboring school district that has supported the Mt. Si dive program by letting MSHS join in with their other three schools. Says Berglund, “We are very thankful for the Issaquah School District allowing Kaitlyn to dive and represent Mt Si. Hopefully, one day in the near future, we will have a facility that can cater to all the aquatic needs and talent that we have in the Valley.”
Coach Stewart agreed to say that Coach Berglund has done such an amazing job coaching Kaitlyn and helping her to find success. Kyra Holt said, “Seeing your child being acknowledged at that level when she worked as hard as she did is an amazing feeling. We as parents truly appreciate MSHS for making it happen for her”
When asked if she’ll pursue diving at the college level, Kaitlyn replied no, saying she will be attending a four-year university in California or Arizona.” So, no more rain and cold days for Kaitlyn. She will be majoring in marketing and management, where her work ethic, dedication and leadership will propel her to continue to do great things in life.