Although she had competed at the club level since she was 8 years old, Westerville Central senior Macey Swearingen thought it was important to join the Warhawks girls swimming and diving team once she began high school.
CORRECTION: Zeke Healey finished second at 182 pounds in the Panther Invitational on Jan. 18 at Pickerington North. Because of a reporter's error, the incorrect wrestler was credited with the finish.
That decision started Swearingen on the road to becoming one of the top swimmers in program history.
"I always heard of people doing sports for their high school and kids get to represent the school that they go to," Swearingen said. "I know club swimming is a big deal and there's a lot of emphasis on it, but I also wanted to have something where I was doing it for my school. I wanted to do that for my sport and what I do and be able to share that with people at my school."
Swearingen is looking to cap her prep career by competing in her fourth Division I state meet Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
She turned in her top performances at state last season by finishing ninth in the 100-yard backstroke (57.03 seconds) and 15th in the 100 freestyle (52.69). She also was on the 10th-place 200 free relay (1:36.92) and 20th-place 400 free relay (3:36.94) with senior Sophia Antonetz and sophomore Kiah Smith.
"I'm focused more on my times," Swearingen said. "I haven't hit my best time yet this season in the backstroke. My goal is to hit my time or go faster. I'm not worried about placements because everyone is fast, everyone can place high. It's always a competition. I want to get there again because it's really fun and something special, but it's not a top priority."
Swearingen's district meet last season was highlighted by winning the 100 back (56.67) despite competing in lane 9. She expects to compete in the 100 back during the coming postseason, but is undecided on the second event.
Swearingen also is hoping to better her program records in the 100 back (56.32), 100 free (51.84) and 200 individual medley (2:07.59). She also swam on the 200 medley (1:48.42) and 200 free (1:36.92) program-record relays.
The Warhawks will prepare for the postseason by competing in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Saturday, Jan. 25, at Kenyon College. Last season, Swearingen, Smith and Antonetz were members of the first-place 200 free relay (1:43.22) and second-place 400 free relay (3:43.35), and Swearingen was second in the 100 back (1:00.41) and third in the 200 free (1:59.36).
"Obviously, we would like her to get back to Canton and I have no doubt that she will," said Linda Staab, who shares coaching duties with her husband, Ron. "We want her to have a great final season of her high school career. She's always been an exceptional swimmer. She's a great teammate."
Swearingen began swimming competitively with the Buckeye Swim Club before joining the Ohio State Swim Club when she was 13. She also is winding down a strong career at the club level.
"Since she's a club swimmer, she makes a real effort when she comes to practice to know who everybody is and be a part of the team," Staab said.
Swearingen soon will prepare for the next step of her career, as she will swim at Marshall University. She chose the Thundering Herd over several programs, with Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, also strongly considered.
"It was a long process," she said. "Recruiting was not easy because I didn't know what I wanted and it was difficult to figure out what my priorities were and what was more important to me."
Swearingen also has a 4.5 cumulative GPA. She points to dedication and hard work as keys to excelling in multiple areas.
"It's hard, I'm not going to lie," she said. "It's taken a long time to figure out how to manage it all, but also be happy. I feel like at first I was drowning in all of it, but I have really high expectations for myself. ... One of the things I learned was to put yourself first and learn about yourself because the more you learn about yourself, the better you'll be able to do all of it."
Boys basketball team falls to North
The boys basketball team was 11-4 overall before playing Pickerington Central on Jan. 21 and is 3-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Warhawks rallied in the second half to force overtime before losing 60-51 at Westerville North on Jan. 17. Tasos Cook led the way with 20 points and Tyler Beckel added 11.
Central bounced back to defeat Cincinnati Western Hills 91-79 in overtime in the Midwest King Classic on Jan. 18 at Middletown. Cook led a balanced attack with 20 points, followed by Will LeMaire with 17, Quincy Clark with 14, Beckel with 13 and Brad Leonard with 11.
The Warhawks defeated Groveport 62-46 on Jan. 14 as Cook had 22 points, Clark scored 13 and Landon Tillman added 11.
Wrestling team wins Panther Invitational
The wrestling team won the 14-team Panther Invitational on Jan. 18, scoring 215.5 points to outdistance runner-up and host Pickerington North (198.5).
David Javier (106 pounds) and Braden Weimer (195) won titles, and Gary Steele (145) and Zeke Healy (182) finished second.
The Warhawks improved to 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye with a 45-27 win at Olentangy on Jan. 16. Winners by pin for Central were Caleb Scheideger at 132 (1:37), Tate Sterling at 152 (1:12) and Healy at 182 (52 seconds).
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 24 -- At Olentangy Orange. The Warhawks lost to the Pioneers 76-64 on Dec. 13.
*Jan. 24 -- At Orange. The Warhawks lost to the Pioneers 66-29 on Dec. 13.
Jan. 28 -- At Central Crossing
Jan. 25 -- Jaguar Baker Marathon at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Jan. 24 -- Warhawk Invitational at Worthington Youth Boosters
Jan. 28 -- At Worthington Kilbourne with Logan, Thomas Worthington and Thornville Sheridan
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 25 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Kenyon College
*Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Orange
Jan. 25 -- New Albany Invitational