Megan Smith doesn’t have a lot of free time.
But she always makes time for the important things.
Smith is a junior at Nazareth Academy High School, and this year she’s become one of the top swimmers in the state.
The Chalfont resident swims the 200 freestyle, the 500 free and the two relay teams.
This year, she made the PIAA Class AA swimming championships, where she swam on both the 200-medley relay, the 400-freestyle relay and the 500-freestyle event.
The 200-medley relay consisted of her, along with Lizzie Unger, Callie Walker and Quincey Kilbride. Caitlyn Szumski, Walker and Kilbride joined her on the 400 free relay team. Izzy Meyers served as an alternate.
Smith was the only one to compete in three events and she did have a great showing at the event, but she was a lot quicker to talk about the success of the team and the program rather than herself.
“Our team is really good, I think it’s because we’re so close,” said Smith, who is a club swimmer with NRG Swimming in Bucks County. “It was a great experience for us to go up there. I’m really proud of the team. I’m lucky that I swim for my club team, but I practice with my high school team.
“It’s a big commitment, I love it. I like seeing the hard work pay off. I like dropping time, I like seeing everything I put in come out in a positive way. And I like seeing my teammates drop time. We all push each other.”
But when pressed, Smith admits this was a great year for her, individually. She’s always been a good swimmer. She began competing in the sport when she was 6 years old and signed up to swim at Torresdale Swim Club. And while she was always a good swimmer, this was definitely her coming-out year, and she credits the strong season to putting in more effort.
“It’s definitely a big year, I improved a lot from last year, I competed a lot harder,” Smith said. “It was mostly that I became more committed than I ever have been. I just started going to practice and knew I wanted to go to states, make these championship meets. I put in a lot of hard work, and pushed myself to be the best I can be. I just worked harder and it showed.”
Not only did Smith make her debut swimming at the state competition, she achieved a big goal with her club swim team.
“This was the first year I made senior champs because my times are a lot faster,” Smith said of the club competition that was held a week after the final high school competition of the season. “I think there’s usually more than one-week break. Last year I didn’t make states, they took a lot less people because of COVID, and I was right on the outside. So it was really fun to make both of them.”
Smith made a lot of strides in the pool, and it’s even more impressive when you consider she’s better in the classroom than she is at swimming.
She takes three advanced-placement classes at Nazareth. Two of her other classes are honors classes. That means free time is nearly nonexistent. But Smith makes sure to have fun while balancing her sports and studies.
“It’s tough to balance that and social life, but once I got into the groove, it got a lot easier,” said Smith, a Diocosean scholar who will take classes at Gwynedd Mercy next year, who is also on student council. “I would come home from school, do as much homework as I could, then go to practice, come home and finish it at night. The biggest thing was when I got home from school, I had to do homework. If you use your time wisely, it gets easier.”
Now that swimming season is over, at least for the Pandas, she’ll focus on her club team’s practices. She’ll also be busy competing on the Nazareth track team, where she’s a sprinter and a thrower.
“My favorite event is the javelin,” Smith said. “It’s definitely one of my better throwing events. We practice every day and it helps. Running is so different than swimming, it helps me build up endurance. It’s a lot different than swimming, and that’s one of the things I really like about it.”
She’s also spent some time dancing this spring.
Smith was part of the Naz-A-Thon, the dance competition that raises money for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She danced, and also as part of student council, she ran the water balloon station.
“It’s fun because it’s for a great cause,” Smith said. “It was a lot, I danced for 12 hours. I’m feeling it! But it was great to raise money for the kids.”
She’ll do it again next year. She’ll also be back to lead the Pandas swimming team.
“I love being a part of the program because we all get along so well,” Smith said. “We have fun. We are all friends away from swimming, too. I think that means a lot. That makes it more fun, and makes you want to be there. I’m proud of what we did this year.”