Most often, all Carolyn McCann has to do to break both a school and meet record is be her normal aquatic self.
She doesn’t taper; she doesn’t practice longer – she just gets in the pool and swims.
That’s exactly what the Gig Harbor junior did at the Class 4A West Central District championship last month. McCann crushed her competition in the 100-yard breaststroke, finishing the race in 1 minute, 3.50 seconds – the fastest time in the state.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I was hoping for the record, but I was not expecting to go that fast.”
Going fast is second nature to McCann, who has been swimming since age 8 and also competes for the Tacoma Swim Club. This summer, she swam in the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. She finished 113th in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:13.00.
“It was such a surreal experience,” she said. “Sometimes I look back and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I was there.’”
McCann didn’t get to meet Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte or Missy Franklin in person, but she enjoyed seeing them from afar – and hopes to again in 2016.
“Knowing that I was there with the top swimmers in the country was so much fun,” she said.
This weekend, she will be among the top swimmers in the state as she competes in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley at the Class 4A state swimming and diving championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. She will also swim a pair of relays.
“I’m excited to show what I have at state and hopefully bring home winning titles,” she said.
In addition to being the fastest breaststroker in the state – her closest competitor is four seconds slower – McCann is also seeded as the No. 3 entrant in the 200 IM (2:07.72).
“She’s just a really hard-working athlete,” said Gig Harbor coach Mike Kelly. “She really puts forth a lot of attention to the fine details.”
McCann said that “the stars perfectly aligned” for her to swim for Gig Harbor this year. She had known some of her new teammates for years, and the others “welcomed me with open arms.”
She said she especially enjoys the family atmosphere of high school swimming. Club sports, she added, are a lot more serious.
But, on any given day, either is fine.
“I just love the sport,” she said. “I love the people – you really become a family with a team – and being there day in and day out working your butt off. You can’t do this sport unless you love it.”
McCann admits it can get tedious swimming back and forth for hours, staring at a black line at the bottom of a pool.
“But then you go to meets like (districts) and break records, and it’s so worth it,” she said.
McCann broke both the school and meet record in the 100 breaststroke by two seconds, and, ever the perfectionist, is aiming to do the same in the 200 IM this weekend.
“You can make it easy on yourself,” she said, “but then you just won’t improve, and that’s pointless.”
McCann, who has a 4.0 grade-point average, plans to study engineering in college and is hoping to get a swimming scholarship at California, Stanford, Purdue or Indiana.
Wherever she goes, Kelly expects his pupil to make a name for herself.
“When there’s heart and they’re eager to work hard, they’re usually pretty successful,” he said. “I think the best is yet to come.”
STATE GIRLS SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way
Schedule: For 2A, preliminaries are today from 9:45-11:45 a.m., and finals are Saturday from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. For 3A, preliminaries are today from 2:30-4:30 p.m., and finals are Saturday from 2:30-5 p.m. For 4A, preliminaries are today from 6:15-8:15 p.m., and finals are Saturday from 6:30-9 p.m.
Tickets: Single day is $9 for adults, $7 for children and senior citizens. Tournament passes are $15 for adults, $10 for children and senior citizens.
Storylines: 4A – A bit of history can be made Saturday if pre-meet favorite Richland captures the team title. It would be the first time an eastside school captures a large-school classification crown. And led by defending 200 IM champion Lisa Bratton, who is the top seed in two events (200 IM, 100 backstroke), do not put it past the Bombers. Richland has a top-three time in six events. The only time an eastside school won a girls swimming title was Class 2A Eastmont (1989-90). Skyline is the four-time defending champion, and should still be a factor. ... Stadium’s Felicity Cann will not defend her 100 free title this weekend, instead opting to swim the 200 and 500 free. She has the top mark in the 500 free (5:06.96) by 31/2 seconds. ... Gig Harbor’s Carolyn McCann is the prohibitive favorite in the 100 breaststroke, but she will have to contend with defending champion Sage Speak of Inglemoor. ... Federal Way’s Kenna Ramey, the reigning 50 free champion, comes in with the fastest mark of 23.98. ... Looking for a meet record to fall? Try 1-meter diving where Garfield’s Caitlin Chambers (475.55 points) should threaten the mark of 473.30, set by Issaquah’s Jesse Snowden in 2005. 3A – Mercer Island is deep, talented and poised to capture its fifth consecutive team title, which has never been done in 3A. Bellevue won four consecutive championships from 2001-04. ... Foss High’s Emma Chard is a multiple-event threat to win state titles – in the 100 free (52.15, trails Mead’s Anna Keane at 52.11) and 100 breaststroke (1:06.25, trails Bellevue’s Kim Williams at 1:04.55). 2A – Tumwater is a real threat for a podium finish behind standout Abby Sullivan, who is No. 1 in the 100 backstroke (59.33) and leads off the Thunderbirds’ state-leading 400 free relay (3:44.60). Sullivan is also right behind Ellensburg’s Taylor Wilson in the 100 free, 53.39 to 53.57. ... Fife’s Meredith Sawer is the second seed in the 100 breaststroke at 1:firstname.lastname@example.org