COLUMBUS — Mount Vernon swimmer Maggie Williams didn’t want her career to end because of a knee injury.
The senior battled through four events, including helping a relay team shave off some time as a swan song at the Division I district meet at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion Thursday afternoon.
“She dislocated her kneecap about a week ago,” Mount Vernon coach Samantha Williams said. “She’s still coming back from that. Just to see her get back and race through all of that pain was really telling of her character. She is one of the hardest workers we have on the team. So, to see it pay off like that was really exciting.”
Maggie Williams said the knee started bothering her in her first event of the day, the 200-yard freestyle. She finished 23rd out of 30 competitors in the event with a time of 2:03.3 behind winner Kristyn Sabol of Dublin Coffman (1:50.16).
“After my 200 free, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish it out,” Williams said. “It was a constant fight throughout the day. I think once I decided to keep going, I tried to put it out of my head. Just swim and see what happens.”
Williams finished 28th of 30 in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:35.05 behind winner Maya Geringer of Dublin Jerome (4:53.7).
“Maggie dropped a second in her 500, which was exciting because she’s been injured,” Samantha Williams said. “She’s been working incredibly hard the last four years in high school swimming and club swimming. This meet was really special, it’s her last meet. As her sister, it was really exciting to get to coach her through that.”
The highlight of the day for the Yellow Jackets came in their final event. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Skylar Hill, Claire Duffy, Bre McCluskey and Maggie Williams finished 13th out of 30 teams in 3:50.03 in the event won by Upper Arlington (3:26.43).
“They dropped three seconds, and that’s kind of unheard of, so it was really exciting,” Samantha Williams said. “I don’t know what happened there, honestly. I told them, ‘This is Maggie’s last race — let’s go!’ I don’t know if it was what I said or if it was something they said to each other. But it was a magical moment.”
“I think we were all excited,” Maggie Williams said. “It was the last race of the season and the last race of my swimming career. So, we just all put it out on the line.”
McCluskey, Duffy, Williams and Hill also competed together in the 200-yard freestyle relay where the team finished 14th out of 30 behind Upper Arlington (1:33.92).
Anna Rhodeback, Liz Cline, McCluskey and Sandi Brenneman competed in the 200-yard medley relay and finished 26th of 30 teams with a time of 2:05.46 behind winner New Albany (1:42.28).
The Jackets finished the day with 14 points to finish 21st out of 26 teams that scored behind district champion New Albany (378).
Upper Arlington topped 23 scorers on the boys’ side with 381.5 points to capture a district title.
The top two individuals in each event automatically advance as well as 16 at-large berths to the state meet at the Branin Natatorium in Canton on Feb. 21 and 22. The at-large bids won’t be decided until all district meets are completed as they are determined by times statewide.
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