Not many 15-year-old athletes have achieved so much, so soon, that it’s difficult to list all of their accomplishments, but such is the case with swimming standout Meghan Lynch.
For nearly a decade, the Greenwich resident has excelled in the pool for the Greenwich YWCA Dolphins and most recently, the Greenwich High School girls swimming squad, where she’s broken numerous records, registered a pool-full of first-place finishes and produced an array of eye-popping performances.
Also a talented triathlete, Lynch jumps into the pool each day with a particular objective.
“I want to have fun, you can’t work as hard as you want if you are not having fun,” said Lynch, a sophomore.
To Lynch, having fun leads to training hard, which results in posting fast times — a scenario she’s extremely accustomed to.
“If I put up my best times after working so hard, it’s very rewarding and I really like that feeling,” Lynch said. “When you win, it’s fun and when you put up best times, it’s great, especially since you know that your hard work has paid off.”
The fun times continued for Lynch at the USA Swimming Winter Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., (Nov. 28-Dec. 1), the site of her latest accomplishment.
Representing the Dolphins, Lynch qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Nebraska (June 21-28, 2020) in the 200-meter individual medley, posting a personal-best time of 2:17.03 in her first event at the Swimming Winter Nationals.
“At Greensboro, they ran it long course, so you could qualify for the Olympic Trials and I qualified in the 2 IM, my first time qualifying for the Trials,” the Greenwich swimmer with Olympic dreams said. “Qualifying for the Olympic Trials is really exciting. It was great to compete at the Winter Nationals with so many top swimmers.”
GETTING HER START
Greenwich YWCA Dolphins head swim coach Nick Cavataro recalls Lynch joining the program as a 6-year-old intent on honing her skills.
“Even at a young age, she was able to focus on technique and skill at a high level,” Cavataro said. “In that sense, she has always been very easy to coach. She takes directions and makes adjustments very quickly and incorporates them into her practices.”
Lynch concentrated on swimming soon after getting introduced to the Dolphins’ program.
“When I began playing sports, I did gymnastics — gymnastics was my thing,” Lynch said. “But as I kept swimming, I really liked it and I kept getting better, so I kept going.”
Upon competing with the YWCA Dolphins, it wasn’t long before Lynch was breaking club, state and national records.
She set National Age Group records in the 10-and-under girls 50 and 100-yard (short course yards) breaststroke events and 100 breaststroke (long course meters) — records that still stand.
The Connecticut Swimming Senior Championships at Wesleyan University this past summer saw Lynch set a state record in winning the 200-meter individual medley in 2:17.11 — a time ranking her 18th all-time among 13-14 year-old girls (she was 14 at the time of the event). The speedy Lynch also won the 400 individual medley (4:51.23) and had second-place finishes in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, while notching winning performances in the 200-meter freestyle (2:04.73) and 400 freestyle (4:21.69) at the Senior Championships.
She was the female high point winner at the Connecticut Senior Championships from 2016-2018, was first in her age group each year from 2013-2018 at the USA Swimming sponsored IM Extreme Games and was the female high point winner each season at the Connecticut Swimming Age Group Championships (2013-2018).
Lynch’s success hasn’t come by accident. Her excellence in the pool is the result of endless hours of training.
“She is probably the hardest worker I have ever worked with in terms of conditioning,” Cavataro said. “Meghan comes to practice every day prepared to do her absolute best and she is relentless — she wants to win every lap. From early on, I knew she had enormous aptitude in the breaststroke, which is where she still holds a couple of national records. But her development in the backstroke, distance and freestyle events has been remarkable. She’s great at all four strokes in a variety of distances.”
Currently she trains five during the afternoon five times a week and three mornings per week with the Dolphins — a schedule she she diligently follows.
“Meghan never misses a day of practice,” Cavataro said. “When people ask Michael Phelps why he is so good, he said, it’s because I never miss practice and neither does she. Seeing her make the Olympic Trials is exciting and I know she has other goals as well, such as making USA National Team or Junior National Team. She has an enormous future ahead of her.”
Lynch, who also competed in the USA Swimming Summer Nationals in Irvine, Calif., last summer, appreciates her time with the Dolphins and the skills she’s developed with the club over the years.
“He’s (Cavataro) really supportive, he’s really great,” Lynch said. “He’ll always do whatever he can to make me go faster and he’ll do things like adjust practices for me. Swimming for the Dolphins is a lot of fun.”
SOARING WITH THE CARDINALS
Lynch has earned All-American, All-State and All-FCIAC accolades during her first two seasons as a member of the Greenwich High School girls swim team.
Selected as the GameTimeCT Girls Swimmer of the Year, Lynch was one of the driving forces behind Greenwich’s triple crown 2018 campaign. She garnered the first-place medal in the 200-yard individual medley at the CIAC Class LL Championships in an All-American, state and Class LL time of 1:59.30. She also won the 200 IM title at the State Open (1:59.57).
In the 100-yard breaststroke at the Class LL final, she finished first in a LL record showing of 1:02.28 (All-American time) and earned top honors in the event at the State Open competition (1:02.75). The time of 50.60 seconds she posted in the 100 freestyle as part of the Cardinals’ 400 freestyle relay team at the state meet was an All-American consideration showing.
“It was a really exciting season, my times during the dual meet season were better than the previous year, so I was happy with that,” she said. “Going into the championship season, I started putting up best times and it was really exciting.”
Greenwich (454 team points), edged Cheshire (439) for its fourth straight State Open title.
“The meets in the championship season always stand out to me,” said Lynch, who received the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Girls Swimmer of the Year Award in 2018. “The State Open was really exciting, because last year it wasn’t that close, but this year, it came down to the last relay. That last relay (400 freestyle relay) was the most memorable race and I led off and us winning by a slight margin was fun.”
Cardinals coach Lorrie Hokayem saw Lynch’s dedication to the sport each day in practice.
“Meghan is an extremely talented athlete for sure, but what makes her special is her work ethic and the consistency to which she approaches practice,” Hokayem said. “She wants to be excellent at every part of swimming and she pushes herself to be the best she can during each phase of practice, which is unique. It’s hard to do that — to push your body day in and day out. She’s the best repeat swimmer I’ve ever coached.”
The team aspect attached to high school swimming is significant to Lynch.
“Being on the high school team is great,” she said. “Everyone is so close and everyone is screaming and cheering for you the whole race. It really pushes you to go faster.”
Said Hokayem: “Any time you have a fantastic athlete with a good work ethic, it elevates the rest of the team. Certainly ,her teammates are equally impressed with her work ethic and ability to perform when it matters the most. That elevates the whole group’s expectations.”
Besides being a standout swimmer, Lynch has no trouble waking up early during the summer and fall to compete in state-wide triathlons, many of which she has won.
She was the female champion at the Hammerfest Triathlon in Branford, the Mossman Sprint Triathlon in Norwalk, the Seaside Sprint Triathlon in Bridgeport last year. Lynch also took top female honors at the Kiwanis Sprint Triathlon in 2016, the Quassapaug Sailing Center Open Water Swimming Festival this past September and the Greenwich Point One-Mile Swim in July.
Lynch has also won several area running events, some of which she’s competed in with her brother Ryan, a swimmer at Tufts University and mother Joan, who was on the swimming team at the University of Connecticut.
She credits her mother for being one of her swimming mentors.
“My mom is really helpful and supportive,” Lynch said. “She always wants to make sure I’m having fun and that I’m enjoying what I’m doing.”
Lynch, who was a key member of Greenwich’s State Open, Class LL and FCIAC championship winning indoor track teams last winter (member of Cardinals’ 4 x 800-meter Class LL title winning relay squad last season, second place FCIAC, second place State Open) is training with the YWCA Dolphins, as they prepare for their upcoming meets.
Greenwich High’s season starts in the fall and of course, she also has an eye on next year’s Olympic Trials. Though she’s only a sophomore, college is also on the horizon. She, no doubt, will garner the interest of plenty of schools with big-time swimming programs.
“I haven’t started looking at colleges, but I will probably do that soon,” Lynch said. “I am looking forward to swimming in college.”
Indeed, Lynch has learned and extracted plenty from swimming.
“I love getting in the water with my team every day, where we work together,” she said. “Swimming has helped me not waste time. Because of my schedule, I know how to use my time diligently.”
She is also adept at registering time times in the pool.
“One of the things I like the most is sometimes I will go to a little meet and put up a time that was close to my best time, when I didn’t expect it,” Lynch said. “That’s always a lot of fun.”