In a strange way, Anna Keane’s swimming success in the past, has kept her out of the pool for the Meadowdale swimming team so far this season.
But not for long.
Keane, who is traveling across the country as she tries to determine where she is going to swim collegiately, doesn’t have the required number of practices to join the Mavericks yet this year. However, once the two-time state champion in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle is eligible, Meadowdale head coach Kati Girard believes she will pick up right where she left off.
“She’s a very focused young lady. Obviously, there are other (competitors) out there focused on breaking that, but I think she’s very capable of repeating (at state),” Girard said. “I think she definitely has the mental piece, which is very important, to it. I don’t see why she couldn’t do it.”
According to Girard, it’s not entirely uncommon to have a star swimmer miss some early season practices while visiting schools. With two meets a week, it’s difficult for Keane to get the required 10 practices in.
Keane could return as early as next week — although Girard said it might be the week after — to help bolster Meadowdale’s other 32 swimmers who have started the year 1-1.
“It’s one of the struggles that happens on a rare occasion,” Girard said. “Once she gets back on board that changes up the relays and gives us a better chance to get down to state. Of course she’ll be wanting to go back to state and do the events she did before. The plan is she will be on board to be able to do a good job at state like she did last year.”
Her recruiting trips mean Keane, who is homeschooled, is rarely seen at Meadowdale. Girard coached Keane’s club team when she was younger and wasn’t sure if she would compete for a high school team.
Girard said many club coaches discourage their swimmers from competing in high school athletics.
But all of Keane’s siblings had competed in high school and had fun, and that was enough for Keane to decide she wanted to swim for Meadowdale, the school she would attend if she went to public school.
“I’m hardly ever around the school,” Keane said. “I basically only see the girls at practice. But I love it. It’s a different environment, but it’s fun being with girls your age doing something you love. It’s been absolutely great. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Keane said club swimming “is a bit more focused on the individual” improving times, and isn’t really focused on “being a team.” She likes that element of high school swimming and hopes that her team can get back to the state meet and have another strong showing like in 2012, when the Mavericks finished sixth in the team standings.
“I’m extremely excited for all the girls we have,” Keane said. “We have some girls with really good potential to get to state and hopefully we’ll have a good showing like we did last year and be able to place high.”
Along with Keane, Meadowdale returns a few swimmers that could have strong seasons for the Mavericks. Sophomores Anabella King and Victoria Nguyenle have shown great improvement early in the season and captain Laura Lundeberg, one of six Meadowdale seniors, look to lead the Mavericks back to the state championship.
“They all can do everything,” Girard said. “They’re pretty versatile.”
When Keane returns, Girard said the Meadowdale relay teams will also be strengthened.
Keane has been the 3A state champion in the 100 and 50 freestyle events the last two years, after finishing second in both events as a freshman at the 2010 state meet behind Hazen’s then-senior Lauren Kaufman.
Once Kaufman graduated, it opened up the top spot and Keane quickly grabbed a hold and hasn’t let go.
She hopes to defend both titles this season and knows that as a two-time state champion, many swimmers may have a little extra motivation when competing against her.
“It’s a goal for myself,” Keane said. “I set this goal at the end of last year’s season in November. I’ve been really working toward it since then. It’s something I really want to do. It’d be a great way to end my high school career. It’d be great to be able to say I was a state champion three times.
“If I don’t win it it’s not the end of the world obviously, but of course I would love to win.”
Keane knows she will continue her swimming career next year, but isn’t quite sure where yet. She’s lined up visits to North Carolina State, Northwestern University, Liberty University, Virginia Tech and Rice University.
Wherever she ends up, Keane wants to study biomolecular engineering and get a Master’s Degree in genetic engineering so she can work in antibiotic drug research and development.
She hopes to decide where she’ll go soon after her last visit in the middle of October.
“There’s recruiting visits this month and next just trying to figure out where I want to go to college next year. It’s fun. It’s crazy,” Keane said. “They’re still pretty neck-and-neck. I have been very impressed with Northwestern and North Carolina State. Both excellent schools, great swimming programs. I don’t know where I’m going yet. It’s tough to have a favorite. Hopefully within a month I will know.”
Head coach: Kati Girard
Key players: Anna Keane (above), Sr.; Anabella King, So.; Victoria Nguyenle, So.; Laura Lundeberg, Sr.
Key upcoming dates: vs. Kamiak, today; at Jackson, Oct. 1; Edmonds School District Meet, Oct. 26; 3A District Finals, Nov. 9; State Swim and Dive Championships, Nov. 15-16.
Season overview: Meadowdale may have one of the best swimmers in the state, but overall the Lady Mavs are a young team. That doesn’t mean they don’t have high hopes, returning six senior swimmers from a team that finished sixth at state.