Knoch, TikTok benefitting from Traggiai’s talents

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Monday, January 10, 2022 | 11:03 AM


With his athletic life revolving around shedding seconds off of a clock, it’s no surprise Caden Traggiai’s go-to social media platform is TikTok.

Traggiai, a senior at Knoch, is one of the top swimmers in the A-K Valley, finishing sixth in the 500-yard freestyle and seventh in the 200-yard freestyle at last year’s WPIAL championship meet.

Those accomplishments have helped Traggiai earn a sizable audience on TikTok, with more than 19,000 people following his periodical videos.

“I’ve always just enjoyed making stuff like that for fun,” said Traggiai, who used his mother’s camera to make videos before platforms like TikTok even existed. “It was like two years ago, and some of my videos were getting a bunch of likes and views. I earned a bunch of followers, and it just happened every so often.”

When Traggiai hit 17,000 followers, SwimOutlet, a popular swimming apparel brand, reached out to him and began sending goods for Traggiai to feature on his account.

“They offered for me to be an ambassador for their brand,” said Traggiai, who has had some videos reach nearly a million views. “So I make videos for myself and their company. I have to make certain videos showing off things they send me, and that’s helping me build my profile.”

He does that while he continues to build his profile in the pool, doing so in a unique circumstance at Knoch as the only male swimmer on the team.

“I have no one to race against, so I have to race against the clock,” he said.

Traggiai sees some benefit to having no male teammates. He can focus on his events without being worn down by participating in relay teams. Though his coach, Dominique Patrick, admits Traggiai enjoyed his relay success earlier in his career.

“I think he’s doing well with it,” said Patrick, in her first season with Knoch. “Since he’s the only male swimmer, he’s had to push himself to get the time he needs. He’s a team-building, team-spirit sort of swimmer. … He’s really self-motivated, and that’s really helping him this season.”

The lack of male teammates is not the only significant challenge faced by Traggiai while in high school. Last year, he contracted covid-19 and was hit hard by the virus.

“Getting back into the water, my breathing was messed up,” he said. “I had to do a bunch of breathing exercises, and there’s still times where, if I push myself too much, it’s hard for me to catch my breath. So it’s not 100%, but it’s definitely getting better.”

While he’s working on his strokes, his breathing and his academics, one major element of a high schooler’s senior season has already been settled. Traggiai will attend Wilmington College in Ohio next year and will be on the swim team at the NCAA Division III school.

“I got a good offer for my academics, and I know some people who live in that area and that’s how I found out about that school,” he said. “I visited other swim coaches at other colleges, and they didn’t feel like the right fit for me. I didn’t just meet with the swim coach (at Wilmington), I met with the whole team and I was invited to go to their swim meet with them. It was more of a personal visit.”

Once at Wilmington, he hopes to study to become a chiropractor.

“Being an athlete, I understand that a bunch of athletes go to physical therapy, and a bunch swimmers go to chiropractors before meets,” said Traggiai, who enjoys watching viral social media videos of chiropractors working on patients. “So knowing that, it led me into that path. Plus, if I start working with someone who needs help, I get to help them and watch them be better in the end.”

But before he turns his attention to cracking backs, Traggiai hopes to crack some record books.

“My biggest goal would be to drop five more seconds on my 500(-yard freestyle), so that I could get that YMCA national qualifying time.” he said. “And, while first place would be ideal, I’d like to get into the top three at WPIALs.”

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