McCay finds success in freshman swim season, breaks school records


Mia Constantin

Freshman Maddie McCay finished a lap during a school swim practice. Outside of swimming for the Streaks, McCay also participates in Westover Waves and the Virginia Gators.

Completely surrounded by water and isolated from the cheers and whistles of the surrounding swim meet, freshman Maddie McCay dives into the water to begin her race after the starting buzzer. Until she returns back to the wall after her final lap, she will take on the mindset that is present during each of her races: focus on what you’re doing right and wrong, but, most importantly, focus on the competition that is next to you.

This mindset during each race has led McCay to not only earn a total of 233 points for the swim team during the regular season but also to break six individual school records and be a member of three record-breaking relay teams. According to McCay, this success is most attributed to the support that she received from her teammates at each of the meets.

“What I think has contributed most to my success this year would be of course practicing, but definitely the team dynamic. Without the support of my team and the laid back feel of all the meets this season, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have been as successful this season if it weren’t for the amazing people,” McCay said.

McCay first began swimming at six years old when her mother enrolled her in the Westover Waves summer league swim team to learn the skills necessary for staying afloat in water. The knowledge of these basic skills eventually blossomed into a love and appreciation for the sport of swimming, and at the age of seven she began swimming competitively for the Virginia Gators, the local club swim team.

“The fun of competing really opened up a new world into sports for me,” McCay said. “[There are challenges when it comes to] the stress of dropping time and the stress of doing well, but it all evens out because it’s really fun too.”

Upon starting her high school season, McCay set goals to break school records and to qualify for the state swim meet with the A team relays. After finishing her season at the VHSL state meet on Feb. 16, competing in two individual events and two relays, McCay can now say that she has met all of the goals that she set out to achieve during her freshman season.

“It feels great to know that [I’ve reached all of the goals I set for myself]. I love how great our team works to help me accomplish them. I’m very [much] looking forward to the next three seasons at HHS,” McCay said.

Though McCay does face stress to constantly improve her times, she also understands that, while this can’t always happen, it’s important to continue to push through and look at what can be done better next time. Head swim coach Richard Morrell recognizes this mentality and has even seen McCay break two records after having a disappointing race.

“Probably the most impressive aspect is how she can recover from setbacks in a race and follow it with a top performance in the very next event she swims in a meet. A lot of swimmers [might] dwell on what they did wrong and not be able to regroup for the next event, but she has the ability to stay in the present and swim incredible races,” Morrell said.  

In addition to this, Morrell notices her positive attitude, impressive work ethic and passion for competing any time that he has the opportunity to watch her swim. He believes that all of these play into the achievements that McCay accomplished during this past season.

“She seems to love being in the water, and she really enjoys competing. It isn’t so much that she loves winning. It’s that she simply enjoys putting her best efforts against every other swimmer’s best effort,” Morrell said.

As McCay continues to compete with the team over the next three years, Morrell looks forward to watching her, as well as the other swimmers on the team, reach the goals that they set for themselves, whether that be breaking school records or setting personal best times.

“I take great pride in every swimmer’s personal accomplishments. We always strive to set personal bests in our meets as we progress through the season, so any time I see a swimmer beat their seed time for a meet, that is a time to celebrate,” Morrell said. “Setting school records is great. Setting personal records is just as important. So for Maddie, I want her school records to also be her personal best swims ever. It’s always satisfying when my swimmers meet their goals.”

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