Fencing Talk with Catherine Case Szarwark: Why Fencing Is Good For Everyone

About

An avid fencer, Catherine Case Szarwark appreciates the sport for its precise balance between physical fitness and mental alertness. According to Catherine Case Szarwark, fencing is as much a mental challenge between two opponents as it is a physical competition. Another facet of fencing that Catherine Case Szarwark values is its gender equality. In the international sport of fencing, notes Catherine Case Szarwark, men and women compete equally. In fact, Catherine Case Szarwark finds fencing to be a particularly good sport for girls to take up, because they develop their natural physical coordination sooner than boys. In addition to physical coordination, Catherine Case Szarwark says that girls are also free from the cultural prejudice of a macho persona, which tends to distract boys from the finer mental points of the sport.

In fencing, says Catherine Case Szarwark, brute strength and speed alone cannot defeat mental clarity and coordination. Fencing is a precise sport, points out Catherine Case Szarwark, and subtlety can score just as well as strength. Though fencing is particularly popular in Europe, only a few schools in the United States teach fencing. This is one reason why Catherine Case Szarwark found it necessary to travel abroad to join international fencing competitions. According to Szarwark, European fencing societies host competitions more often than American fencing societies. Fencing clubs or private academies dominate the American fencing circuit with specialized instructors, and Catherine Case Szarwark notes that fencing in the United States is more prevalent at institutions of higher education.

While attending Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee, Catherine Case Szarwark rose to the highest-ranking American epee fencer in the under-17 age category.  Her fencing for the American team took Catherine Case Szarwark to Italy and Germany, and Szarwark spent time at the United States Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she trained alongside Olympic hopefuls from all over the United States.

In her senior year at Penn State University, Catherine Case Szarwark’s fencing team won the National Championship Tournament.

About Catherine Case Szarwark

For Catherine Case Szarwark, accomplishments came early in life. While friends were hoping to adapt to middle school, Catherine Case Szarwark found her passion. Szarwark started fencing in the sixth grade when a mini-fencing class was offered for physical education. She discovered that she loved it and possessed a rare talent.  Catherine Case Szarwark’s parents were supportive and her path to success began.

Catherine Case Szarwark spent six years at the Nashville Fencing Academy where she developed into one of the finest fencers in the country.  While attending Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee, Catherine Case Szarwark rose to the highest-ranking American epee fencer in the under-17 age category.  Her fencing for the American team took Catherine Case Szarwark to Italy and Germany, and Szarwark spent time at the United States Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she trained alongside Olympic hopefuls from all over the United States.

Upon graduation from high school, Catherine Case Szarwark elected to attend Penn State University where she fenced under the legendary Coach Emmanuil Kaidanov.  There, Szarwark compiled a record of 149 wins against only 35 losses, for an 81.0% winning percentage.  This remains the sixth-best in the storied history of fencing at Penn State University.  Catherine Case Szarwark earned all America honors three times, and was the captain of the Women’s Epee team in 2006-2007 when Penn State University won the NCAA National Championship. In speaking of this team, Coach Kaidanov singled out Catherine Case Szarwark for her leadership and dedication.

Catherine Case Szarwark also earned All Academic Big Ten honors, and finished with a 3.4 grade point average at Penn State University.  Szarwark now lives in New York City and has taught fencing at the New York Athletic Club. She works at NYU School of Medicine and is involved in Junior League of New York.


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