Carolyn McCann is an accomplished athlete whose dream is to qualify for the Olympics. She has been swimming since she was 4 years old, and she’s a school and state record-holder.
McCann trains year-round with a club, in addition to being on the Gig Harbor High School varsity swimming team. During the high school season, she practices four or more hours a day between the two teams.
“It’s definitely challenging, and it gets exhausting,” she said. “But I love the end results.”
McCann said she loves swimming because it’s an individual sport that allows her to be part of a team.
“You spend so much time with the team, they become like a second family,” she said.
Trever Gray, a former member of the national swimming team who has been McCann’s Tacoma Swim Club coach for three years, said McCann has both a desire and a commitment to succeed. He said she’s had seven coaches in eight years, although having consistent coaching is a “major factor in any athlete’s success.”
“Carolyn has become one of the best ranked swimmers in the country that was sought after by (NCAA) Division I universities in spite of this circumstance,” Gray said.
In 2012, McCann qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb. She described the experience as surreal, and she said it will better prepare her for the trials in 2016.
“Seeing what’s out there has brought motivation to practices, and I know what I need to do,” she said.
McCann has maintained a percent 4.0 GPA. She’s also been taking many challenging classes, including seven Advanced Placement or honors courses.
“Swimming taught me time management and how to prioritize and work hard for things,” McCann said.
Since she was young, McCann knew her goal was to be in an NCAA Division I swimming program — and she is excited to see that goal accomplished. She will swim next year at the University of Michigan, where she plans to study engineering or a similar field. She said math is her favorite subject, but she also enjoys learning about structural engineering.
McCann said she’s especially excited about the Wolverines’ building swimming team because it has a lot of potential.
“I am impressed at how successful she is at everything she sets out to accomplish,” Gray said. “She shows that it is no easy task to continually push oneself each day.”
Education: Senior, Gig Harbor High School
Parents: Kay and Nick McCann
Activities/achievements: Class 4A state swimming champion; state record-holder; U.S. Olympic trials qualifier; All-American; Narrows League Scholar Athlete; Tacoma Athletic Commission Athlete of the Year; school record-holder; national age group record-holder; club swimming lessons; Iron Woman; seven AP/Honors classes.
Favorite teacher: Nancy Janski, Spanish, “because she cares about her students. She took time out of her day to come watch me at one of my swim meets. It meant so much to me.”
Best thing about high school: “How teachers care about their students and community.”