When Greenwich competes against Darien in the FCIAC West Region girls swimming championships on Wednesday, it will mark the final meet in the high school career of an athlete that’s made a habit of breaking state and school records, while consistently posting eye-opening performances for the Cardinals.
Senior Meghan Lynch, who has produced a wealth of winning moments during her four-year high school swimming career, will bid farewell to her Greenwich team.
“It’s sad that it’s coming to an end, I’ve had so much fun the past four years,” said Lynch, a tri-captain. “I am going to miss all the girls. I have become so close to everyone throughout the years. They put a smile on my face during practice.”
Lynch has certainly made her teammates smile with the performances and leadership she’s displayed since her freshman year. The Connecticut High School Coaches Association Swimmer of the Year in 2018 and 2019 holds seven school records, two state marks and has helped lead the Cardinals to two State Open, Class LL and FCIAC titles.
“From her first meet, Meghan has been an all-around standout,” Greenwich coach Lorrie Hokayem said. “She’s a pleasure to coach, a hard worker and a leader in practice from her freshman year all the way through her junior and senior year as a captain.”
This time next year, Lynch will be at Stanford University, where she’ll compete for the Cardinal women’s swim team. Lynch will join a Stanford squad that’s coached by Greg Meehan and captured the team title at the NCAA Championships from 2017-2019. Stanford has seen swimmers such as Olympian Katie Ledecky excel for its storied program.
“I am looking forward to going to Stanford,” Lynch said. “It’s going to be fun to have a lot of fast people to cheer for and I’m excited about swimming against good competition all the time. I will be practicing with a lot of girls who are All-American and some who are going to be on the Olympic team. Being able to practice with people who are determined to compete at such a high level will be a lot of fun and a good challenge.”
Qualifying in the 200-meter individual medley, Lynch will compete in the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb., in June. While competing for her club team — the YWCA Dolphins at the USA Swimming Winter Nationals in 2018, she qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200 IM, clocking in at 2:17.03.
“I have one Olympic trial cut, so I am hoping to get more,” Lynch said. “I have a long course meet coming up where I will be trying to get more trial times.”
The long course competition Lynch referred to was the Richmond, Virginia-based U.S. Open Swimming Championships, which commences on Nov. 14. She is scheduled to swim in the 400 individual medley, 200 freestyle, 200 IM, 100 freestyle and 200 breaststroke at the upcoming U.S. Open Swimming Championships.
“I am going to have fun and see what happens,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll get more Olympic Trial cuts. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
During her time with the Cardinals, Lynch has exhibited the ability to swim every event, depending on the team’s needs.
“She’s a great teammate, she’s selfless and she wants to swim where is best for the team,” Hokayem said. “For example, Meghan has swam on every position on the 400 freestyle relay and we were able to squeak out a win against Cheshire in the event and come within seven points of winning the State Open.”
Lynch has flourished in each event she’s raced in for Greenwich and the YWCA Dolphins. She won the 200-yard individual medley title for Greenwich at the State Open and Class LL championships as a freshman, sophomore and junior, breaking state, Class LL, FCIAC and GHS records along the way. Her efforts earned her National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association All-America honors in the 200 IM three consecutive seasons.
During the Cardinals’ 2019 season, Lynch placed first in the 200-yard IM race at the Class LL meet in a state record time of 1:59.13. As a sophomore in 2018, Lynch earned All-America accolades in the 100-yard freestyle, breaking the Class LL and Greenwich records.
Also as sophomore, Lynch won the 100-yard breaststroke title at the Class LL finals (meet-record performance) and the State Open Championships. She also set the FCIAC record in the event and was named an NISCA all-America honoree.
During this abbreviated 2020 season, which has seen Greenwich compete against only a handful of opponents due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynch broke her own Cardinals record in the 200-yard freestyle, while establishing team marks in the 50 freestyle and 500 freestyle. She also helped spark the team’s All-America 400 freestyle relay to first-place finishes at the State Open three straight years.
“I remember when I was still in middle school going to the high school meets and being so excited,” Lynch said. “I remember thinking that I wanted to be a part of that team, which had so much energy. I am really happy with the success that I’ve had over the years.”
She began swimming with the YWCA Dolphins and coach Nick Cavataro as a 5-year-old and quickly found success.
“The YWCA will always be home to me,” Lynch said. “When I was younger, I was focused on gymnastics. But I started getting serious with swimming when I was 10 and competing in national age-group swimming. I just kept improving, which was exciting.”
With the Dolphins, Lynch was the High Point Winner at the Connecticut Swimming Senior Championships each year from 2016 to 2020. She was the High Point Winner at the Connecticut Age Group Championships from 2013-2018 and currently holds 68 Connecticut Age Group records.
Cavataro estimates that Lynch broke more than 100 Dolphins age group records through the years.
Lynch is still the National Age Group record-holder in the 10-and-under 100 breaststroke and 50 breaststroke, both short course and long course.
“She clearly has a lot of natural talent and a great feel for the water,” Cavataro said of Lynch. “You combine that with a joy for the sport, great work ethic and self driven motivation and it’s a combination that’s allowed her to swim at a very high level.”
Recently Lynch, who qualified for the USA Swimming Nationals in 2019 and 2019, was named the Connecticut Swimming Female Swimmer of the Year for the 2019-2020 season.
“As Meghan has gotten to her teenage years, the competition that she’s faced regionally in the Northeast and nationally is pretty intense and she’s risen to the challenge,” Cavataro said. “She is relentless and what makes her really special is her versatility in any stroke.”
Lynch shows her eagerness to excel during her daily practices for both Greenwich High and the YWCA Dolphins.
“Thinking about the end result and what I want out of each race keeps me motivated,” she said. “My family always keeps me motivated too. If I am ever tired one day, my friends and family will give me the energy and support to keep going.”
She considers the 200 IM to be her favorite event.
“I love doing all the strokes, which the 2 IM includes,” she said. “It’s fun to do the 2 IM and see how you can do in every single stroke.”
While pools were closed during the spring due to COVID-19 state guidelines, Lynch kept her conditioning intact by running, another activity she thrives at.
Her freshman year, she was a member of Greenwich’s indoor track and field team, which won the State Open, Class LL and FCIAC championships. She placed third in the one-mile run at the FCIAC and Class LL competition, was third in the conference finals in the two-mile run and was part of the Cardinals’ 4 x 800 relay that claimed the Class LL title and was second at the State Open.
Triathlons also bring out Lynch’s competitive spirit. She’s won five triathlon events (Hammefest Triathlon, Mossman Triathlon, Seaside Sprint, Sleepy Hollow, Tobay) and was a USA Triathlon All-America selection in 2018.
“If I wasn’t swimming so much I would probably be running,” Lynch said. “I did track my freshman year and that was very fun. This year, there were no triathlons, so that was something I missed.”
Indeed, Lynch is appreciative of the coaching she has received from the Dolphins and Cardinals.
“Nick (Cavataro) has always been there for me and is someone I can talk to about anything,” she said. “He helps me enjoy the sport too. At Greenwich, Lorrie (Hokayem) has a lot of energy on the pool deck, which makes me go faster, while making me laugh and smile when I do it.”
Lynch who has goals of earning a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team, knows each day wouldn’t be the same if she didn’t swim.
“Whenever I don’t do it I feel like a part of me is missing,” she said. “It’s so nice to get in the water and forget everything around me. Everyone comes together in the pool. My best friends are people I’ve met from swimming. Swimming has introduced me to amazing people.”