Last season ended in heartbreaking fashion for Morgan McGauley. This season did not.
This season ended in the complete opposite fashion — in jubilation.
After coming up one-hundredth of a second shy of equaling the school record in the 100-yard freestyle at last year’s WIAA Division 1 sectional meet, the junior on this year’s Beaver Dam prep girls swimming team made sure this time would be different.
And she wasn’t alone in rewriting the program’s history book. Liz Grenon also bettered her own school-record mark in the 100 backstroke and those two along with freshmen Dejana Seremet and Tessa Jaeckel set a new mark in the 200 medley relay — marking the second straight year that the Golden Beavers set three records at sectionals.
McGauley didn’t just make up for coming so agonizingly close to breaking the record in 2018, she left no doubt whatsoever, finishing in 54.06 seconds Saturday at Cedarburg High School to shatter the previous mark of :55.28 set by Rachel Zuehls way back in 1987.
“Honestly, I was astonished,” McGauley said of her reaction. “Since I was so close to beating it last year, this entire year has been about focusing on my 100 and looking up and seeing if I got that time. So when I looked up at the time (Saturday) and saw that I did get it, it took me a second to comprehend that I got it.”
McGauley credited her coaches and teammates for continually encouraging her throughout the year. “Having that positive energy,” she said, “was helping me keep that positive mindset of, ‘Yes, I can do it.’”
Still, she was worried in the days leading up to the meet, saying that she didn’t want to “get her hopes up because it was hard last year being so close and not getting it.”
On Saturday, though, she said her confidence began to soar. And as a result, she soared into the record books.
It took a bit to set it in.
“The accomplishment,” she said, “was surreal.”
For Grenon, the feeling of setting a new mark in the backstroke was equally as great — even if she already had her name attached to that record.
The senior’s time of 1 minute, 0.07 seconds eclipsed the mark of 1:00.70 that she set last year at sectionals — when she broke the old record of 1:01.17 established by Kristi Parker in 2003.
“Being able to get a record again is quite amazing,” Grenon said. “My parents have always said, ‘Not a lot of people do what you do during a swimming career,’ and honestly I’m very blessed to have got it again this year.”
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She owes that feeling to a complete absence of complacency.
“At the end of the day, what you put in is what you’re going to get out,” she said. “And it was my senior year so I wasn’t going to let myself not get that record.”
Mission accomplished. And in the last swim of her high school career, no less.
The moments that ensued meant as much to her as getting the record itself.
“When I got out of that pool for the last time all of my teammates came up and hugged me and were like, “We’re so proud of what you accomplished,’” she said. “Being a part of a team sport, that was probably the best moment — having that bonding moment.
“It was the icing on the cake.”
Not much earlier, the medley relay finished in 1:56.02 to establish the new record by the narrowest of margins, eclipsing the mark of 1:56.03 that Grenon, McGauley and then-seniors Sydney Foote and Alex Kraus set last year at sectionals. They set it for the first time earlier last season with a time of 1:57.73, bettering the mark of 1:58.15 set back in 2005.
“It’s weird being that close, because anything could have changed it,” McGauley said of barely breaking the record Saturday. “If one person would have breathed one more time, we wouldn’t have gotten it — that one hundredth of a second could have been changed by anything. So it was really cool that we got it.”
Beaver Dam took 12th among 14 teams at Saturday’s sectional, finishing with 74 points — well ahead of 13th-place Milwaukee Lutheran co-op’s 16 points. Wauwatosa West took 11th with 90.5 points and Brookfield East edged out Cedarburg 388-353 for the championship.
McGauley had the Golden Beavers’ best individual finish, taking sixth in the 100 free with her school-record time. Grenon’s record time in the backstroke was good for seventh and Seremet took 10th in the 100 breaststroke in a personal record 1:10.53.
Sectional champions in each of the 12 events — the 11 swimming events Saturday and the diving competition that was held Friday — received automatic berths in this Friday’s state meet at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison, and individuals with the 18 best times or diving scores in the state in each event counting all of the sectionals also advanced.
Beaver Dam didn’t have any one punch a ticket, but it did have several other notable finishers as far as personal records go.
In addition to the three school records and Seremet’s effort in the breaststroke, PR times went to McGauley (2:03.82) Maddie Derrick (2:17.54) and Elora White (2:26.74) in the 200 free; Seremet (:26.29) and Jenn Riley (:28.58) in the 50 free; Jaeckel (1:11.17) and McKenna Schwartz (1:12.80) in the 100 butterfly; Katherine Panzer (6:07.70) and Jaeckel (6:25.87) in the 500 free; Schwartz (1:14.38) in the backstroke; and Derrick (1:19.07) in the breaststroke.
“Our taper (reducing training so that times are best at the end of the year) did what it was supposed to do,” Beaver Dam coach Bekah Gaumitz said. “Taper is always a tricky thing to coach through because every athlete is different and it only works if the athlete put the work in during the beginning of the season.
“It was rewarding to see the swimmers finish strong.”