Best of both worlds: Love of water, animals paved Plainfield swimmer’s career path
By Mike Beas
Maggie McGuire will spend part of the upcoming summer working as a dolphin presentation assistant at the Indianapolis Zoo, a role that allows the Plainfield High School senior to combine two of her greatest passions.
McGuire, who recently completed her final season for the Quakers girls swim team, said she became intrigued with the idea of one day becoming a marine biologist after watching the movie, “Dolphin Tale” when she was in elementary school.
The 2011 release starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd is based on the relationship between a boy and a dolphin whose tail was lost in a crab trap.
“I’ve always loved the water and have been super passionate about animals,” said McGuire, who worked at the zoo in the same role last summer and will attend Franklin College on a full academic scholarship (she carries a 4.49 grade-point average). “Being at the zoo, it 100% does not feel like work.”
In the pool, McGuire proved as impressive this past season, qualifying for the state meet in three events and finishing with school-record times in three. Her 100 backstroke time of 59.93 seconds and the 400 freestyle relay team’s 3:37.48 at the Avon sectional are new Plainfield girls standards, as is the 1:48.43 clocked by the Quakers’ 200 medley relay at state.
Her other specialty is the 200 individual medley. McGuire might not hold the school mark but did qualify for the state meet.
McGuire accomplished her best high school season despite having patellofemoral symptoms in both knees since sixth grade as well as chronic shin splints. These factors played a part in her not producing better times her junior season, but she bounced back strong the final month of her senior campaign.
“The thing we were most proud of is the way Maggie battled back from adversity to have a great senior year,” said Plainfield coach Scott Johnson. “It says something about her sheer determination and perseverance.”
Consider that in the four events in which she competes, McGuire’s sectional finals times were a total of 4.25 seconds faster than a year ago. In swimming, a sport in which the most incremental improvement is lauded and used for motivation, that is a substantial improvement.
Johnson said after this past Christmas break McGuire began appearing to enjoy her final high school swim season more during meets and interacting with teammates and coaches at practice.
“I think it was that I just stopped worrying about my times and concentrated on having fun,” said McGuire. “You could definitely see a connection between me having fun and my times getting better.”
McGuire is likely to major in biology at Franklin College while swimming for the Grizzlies who are fresh off repeating as champions of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference meet, pursuits that promise to keep her close to the water.