Junior swimmer Kaitlyn Ruffing stands behind the blocks of Jacobs Pool for a free swim on Friday, March 4, 2016. Ruffing won the women's 50 freestyle at the Patriot League Championships in 2015 and placed second in 2016, qualifying for the Olympic Trials. (Michael Lopinto/B&W Staff)

Kaitlyn Ruffing: doing it all as a Lehigh student athlete

Junior freestyler Kaitlyn Ruffing does drills during practice in Taylor Gym on Monday, Feb. 1, 2015. Ruffing, the school record holder for the 50 and 100 Free is currently preparing for Olympic time trials this summer. (Chris Barry/B&W Staff)

Junior freestyle swimmer Kaitlyn Ruffing does drills during practice in Taylor Gym on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Ruffing, the school record holder for the 50 and 100 free, is currently preparing for Olympic Trials this summer. (Chris Barry/B&W Staff)

Kaitlyn Ruffing is the definition of a student athlete.

The junior is a member of the track and swim teams, orchestra, wind ensemble, Kappa Kappa Psi and flute quartet, all while double majoring in biology and music.

For Ruffing, a typical Wednesday morning during her sophomore year began with swim practice from 6 to 7:30 a.m., followed by four classes in a row from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Right from class she’d go to her biology lab until 4 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., she had her second swim practice until 6:30 p.m. and then would have orchestra practice from 7 to 10 p.m.

“To be honest, I don’t have time to watch Netflix,” Ruffing said. “But I really love doing everything I am involved with. The rough science academics balance out the music, and athletics lets me clear my mind and use my competitiveness in another outlet.”

Ruffing has excelled as a member of the swim team. When looking at the Lehigh swimming record books, the name “Kaitlyn Ruffing” appears quite frequently.

She is the school record holder in 50 and 100 freestyle, 200 and 400 medley relay, 200 and 400 freestyle relay and holds the Jacobs Pool record in both the 100 freestyle and 400 medley relay.

She has been a Patriot League Champion in 2014 and 2015 after winning the 100 free in 2014 and then the 50 free in 2015.

At the Patriot League Championship this year, Ruffing time-trialed a 50 free and made the Olympic Trial time. This summer she will join Lehigh men’s swimmers Justin White and Jamal Willis in the Olympic Trials held in Omaha, Nebraska.

To stay prepared for this summer’s trials, she will swim three days a week while still running the 200- and 400-meter on the track team. As a sophomore in 2015, she finished seventh in the 400-meter dash at the Patriot League Championships.

Not only has she been successful in the pool and on the track, but she excels in the classroom as well. The biology and music double major has made the Academic All-Patriot League team for the second straight year. In track she also made the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll as a freshman and sophomore. Ruffing is also a Dean’s List student — a title reserved for individuals with above a 3.6 GPA each semester.

Ruffing’s close friend and teammate, junior Valerie Lauer, knows how much Ruffing means to the Lehigh swim team, both in the pool and around campus.

“Many people are quick to say that (Ruffing) is naturally smart or naturally athletic, and although she is certainly talented, she is one of the most determined, passionate and hard working people I know,” Lauer said. “She constantly challenges herself to be better and sets new goals to go out and achieve.”

When Ruffing needs an outlet to relax and escape her busy schedule, she turns to playing her flute.

“My favorite thing at Lehigh is orchestra, and it’s really nice to have the opportunity to play great orchestral music every week,” Ruffing said.

She said she loves being so involved at Lehigh because of the people who have surrounded her along the way. Her closest friends are on the swim team, and she mainly only gets to hang out with them outside of practice on the weekends.

Senior Carolyn Koch, Ruffing’s best friend and teammate, said it’s easy seeing her during swim season because they train in the same lane and meet up in the library at night to study. Once swimming ends and track begins for Ruffing, it gets tougher.

“Last week we didn’t see each other at all during the week, but when the weekend came, we made it a priority to hang out,” Koch said. “On top of that, we’re always texting about things that happen during the day or sending each other funny memes we find.”

When they both have off days they love shopping, deal-hunting at the Dollar Tree or taking a spa day to relax.

After Ruffing graduates from Lehigh, she is planning to attend medical school in the fall of 2017. Growing up outside of Pittsburgh, her dream medical school is the University of Pittsburgh. As for continuing her swimming career throughout medical school, Ruffing says she wants to continue as long as time permits.

With determination and work ethic, she’ll try to find the time.

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  1. W Terence Reilly on

    Just heard her play at the Bach fest/Zimmerman’s Cafe. Add accomplished floutist to her list. Wonderful performance.

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