Athlete of the Week: Kelly Montesi


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Kelly Montesi earned Big East Female Athlete of the Week for three consecutive weeks to finish the season.

Aphrodite Dimopoulos, Staff Writer

Five straight meets winning all of her individual races, eight winning swims in one week, three top-six conference times in one meet and three consecutive weeks being named Big East Female Athlete of the Week: these are just some of the achievements from senior Kelly Montesi’s last month of swimming. 

These accolades, all accomplished in just the last few weeks of January, proved Montesi to be a powerhouse, not just in Villanova swimming, but in Big East swimming as a whole. In the team’s meets at Pittsburgh on Jan. 20 and West Virginia on Jan. 22, Montesi placed first in all of her individual races: the 100-yard backstroke, the 200-yard backstroke and the 400-year Individual Medley. She also placed first in the 400-yard freestyle relay in which she swims on a team with junior Parri Stahl, senior Abbey Berloco and graduate student Milly Routledge. In every race she is a part of, whether individual or group, Montesi shows poise and skill, leading Villanova to its continued success. 

When asked about simply being a swimmer and preparing for Division I meets, Montesi explained the importance of practice. 

“Meets do get exhausting, but we practice a lot, which really helps.” Montesi said. “There is never a meet that we go to where we aren’t prepared both physically and mentally. Having confidence going in is half the battle.” 

While each of her four swims does not take a lot of time, they all take an intense amount of physical effort. Montesi explained that, for her, switching from race to race, particularly from individual to group races, is easier than it sounds. 

“Sometimes individual events can be tricky, and you get caught up in yourself,” Montesi said. “This is when you can lean on your teammates. Also, competing alongside each other brings a lot of adrenaline, particularly in the relays. The environment is so fun and keeps you engaged the whole time.” 

Earning the title of Big East Female Athlete of the Week is nothing new for Montesi, who has received it four times this season and seven times throughout her career. While her growth in the pool can be partially attributed to her maturity as a senior, Montesi also believes there to be a correlation between her success this season and having to go through a COVID-centered season last year. 

“I think it has been a unique experience for me as an athlete, especially with Covid in the last year,” Montesi explained. “This year, having a full and normal season has been truly great, purely from a training perspective. I think a lot of my recent success has had to do with maturity as well. Like I have been through this before, and now to be back, I can play off of my past experiences.” 

Montesi was also sure to emphasize that her individual successes would not have happened without the support that she receives from her family, friends and the Villanova community. 

“Trust has definitely been built up,” Montesi said. “All of my accomplishments are only because of the people I am around. I look up to my coaches and my teammates as we compete and race to win. Also, the adrenaline of my competitors really pushes me forward.” 

Being an athlete at Villanova is more than just participating in a sport, as the athletics community makes sure to emphasize the importance of academics as well. The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association recently announced both Villanova’s men’s and women’s swim teams as Scholar All-American teams for the Fall 2021 semester, marking the 13th consecutive semester this honor has been given to both teams. 

“I am a nursing major, so I have had to deal with going to clinicals once a week on top of my practice schedule,” Montesi said of her experience as a student-athlete. “There have definitely been times where I have felt spread super thin, but our coaches have always made sure that we have had that support and they understand that academics come first. I have always been treated first as a person and second as an athlete, which has been great.” 

All in all in her career, Montesi has helped Villanova to three straight women’s Big East team titles. She has won Most Outstanding Swimmer on the women’s side in both 2019 and 2021. On Sunday, Jan. 30 Villanova, held its annual SprintFest to honor all of the seniors, an event that Montesi will remember fondly. 

“I wouldn’t be here without the role models given to me throughout my experience.” Montesi said. “Whether it is older athletes or younger athletes and coaches, my experience on the Villanova team has been in a contagiously wonderful atmosphere…In particular, SprintFest was a lot of fun, and it was very special to be honored as a senior. I found it a little funny because our season is not over, but it was special and a little bittersweet for sure.” 

As Montesi mentioned, the season is not over. She and the rest of the team are headed to the Big East Championships at the end of February, a highly anticipated event that presents new challenges every year. 

“It is definitely interesting to go to the Big East Championship this year because of the new competition,” Montesi explained. “It is the first year with Georgetown, and last year was UConn’s first season as well. That makes this championship the first year with everyone, so the competition and atmosphere will be dynamic. I’m excited to see where people fall in this situation, and I am very confident with our team.”

Based on their success this season, Villanova looks promising for the Big East Championship at the end of the month, and Montesi is ready to conclude her final season and continue to lead her team as she has done for the past few years.