Jul 04, 2018 12:00AM
By Cate Reynolds
McKenzie Hemingway has only been swimming for six years, but in that time, she’s made it very clear that she is an elite-level performer. The Queen Anne’s County sophomore swims for three different teams—Queen Anne’s County, Talbot County YMCA, and the Sho’Men club team—and practices at least two hours a day in the pool across six days a week.
Her dedication and hard work is paying off. In her two short seasons at Queen Anne’s, Hemingway has won two state championships while setting several records. A close family friend got Hemingway interested in swimming at age 9, and the pool has been a second home for her ever since.
“I really love swimming, but I also love the people [I’ve met],” Hemingway says. “I have made really great friends on all the teams I swim for.”
In Hemingway’s second season with the Lions, she went undefeated in individual events in dual meets. She holds the 3A/2A/1A state and regional records for both the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard freestyle, and is the defending two-time champion in these events. “These are not easy tasks. There is a lot of pressure that comes with defending not just one, but two state titles,” Queen Anne’s Head Swim Coach Margaret Harris explains. “Despite the pressure, [Hemingway] performed with grace and ambition, having personal best times in each event.”
Even while breaking state records, Hemingway still thrives in school. She is enrolled in honors courses and finished her fall semester on the honor roll. Hemingway’s 3.75 grade point average also earned her a Minds In Motion award, which is given by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association to student-athletes who achieve a 3.25 grade point average or higher.
Hemingway hopes that her good grades and athleticism will allow her to continue swimming at the collegiate level. Though she is beginning the process of looking at schools, she
knows that she wants to stay local. Towson and UMBC are high on her list.
“I’m looking forward to the experience,” Hemingway says of competing at the collegiate level. “I hope to become a better swimmer than I am now.”
According to Hemingway, her success in swimming would not be possible without the support of her teammates. The night before she became a two-time state champ, Hemingway was disqualified from a race for flinching on the starting block. Her team rallied around her and gave her the support she needed.
“All my team mates just built me up and the next night I became the Maryland state champion,” Hemingway recalls. “Their support just made it even better.”
According to Coach Harris, Hemingway’s impact on the team is just as great, or perhaps greater, as the team’s impact on her. Harris says Hemingway’s successes and achievements do not define her because she is so much more than an accomplished swimmer.
“She positively impacts the morale of the team,” Harris says. “She serves as an example of what great things can be achieved with a dream, hard work, and a little sacrifice.”