Big 12 Championships spotlight: Caroline McElhany
Feb. 22, 2010
Caitlin Mangum, Texas Media Relations
Freshman Caroline McElhany could be sitting in a classroom at Friendswood High School right now. Instead, she elected to graduate from high school a year early and enroll at The University of Texas.
The transition for the Friendswood native has not been without struggles, but McElhany is glad to be able to rely on her UT teammates.
"I think that in high school, swimming was a lot more laid back for me, and I found that in college it is a lot more intense, but in a good way," McElhany said. "It is more team-oriented, and I have found that the team aspect really makes it easier. I did not really have people to count on like I do in college swimming, and I'm surrounded by them all of the time."
Texas head women's swimming and diving coach Kim Brackin believes that McElhany has superior potential.
"She has been a great teammate, she is learning, and she wants so much to be a contributor on this team," Brackin said.
McElhany hopes to contribute by helping her team win at the Big 12 Championships as well as use the meet to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Although this will be her first conference championship, McElhany is ready for the challenge.
"I really like rising to the occasion," McElhany said.
After all, the freshman already has plenty of experience swimming on a large stage. McElhany participated in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials as a high school student, where she finished 16th in the 200m IM (2:15.64) and 18th in the 100m butterfly (1:00.03). She also swam well at the 2008 U.S. Open and the 2009 U.S. National Championships.
Brackin believes that this experience, coupled with talent and confidence, should be the ingredients McElhany needs to be a strong factor for the Longhorns.
"She is a talented enough athlete that, in my mind, she should be somebody who is scoring for us at NCAAs," Brackin said. "I hope for her to race confidently and step up and be a leader for this freshman class."
Although McElhany is missing out on some experiences of a typical high school senior, she has no regrets about her decision.
"This is cooler than anything else my friends are doing in high school right now."