As middle school approached, Maggie Chirayath was looking for something to scratch her competitive itch.
She wanted to find a sport where she could compete on an individual level.
At Edward Little, that left her with five choices: cross country, golf, track and field, alpine skiing or swimming. The enjoyment she got from being in the water drew her to swimming and, based on her freshman season with the Red Eddies, Chirayath made the right decision.
“I was looking for something competitive that was individual and I’ve always enjoyed being in the water so I thought I’d try it,” Chirayath said.
In her first season at the high school level, Chirayath placed second in the 100-yard butterfly at KVACs in 1 minute, 12.76 seconds, and sixth in the 200 freestyle (2:13.67). At states, she took 12th in the 200 freestyle (2:16.75) and 14th in the 100 butterfly (1:12.24).
Prior to last year, Chirayath swam with the Twin City swim team at the YMCA. Despite the differences between the Y league and the high school ranks, the now-sophomore found her groove quickly.
“With experience, coming from the Y league, where the events are shorter distances, and coming up to the high school, where the distances are a little longer, Maggie came in and she understood it and did better as the season went on,” Edward Little coach Scott Morrison said. “Her times got much faster. I fully expect her to fall in right behind Olivia (Paione) this year and take over the leadership role next year.”
Chirayath, now in her fifth year of swimming, said one of the biggest differences between swimming at the high school level and for the Y league is high school meets progress faster and there a far fewer breaks between events. At the Y league, where there are more age groups competing, meets can be an all-day event, compared to the one- or two-hour swim meets in high school.
Depending on what events swimmers are competing in, they may only have a few minutes to catch their breath between their events. At the Y meets, a swimmer could be waiting for up to an hour between their events. Yet, when Chirayath began swimming at Edward Little, she didn’t give herself much rest between events. That changed as the season continued.
“When Maggie first starting swimming last year she wanted to swim events that were pretty close to each other and I said ‘That’s fine because I want you to know how that will feel,’ but as the season progressed she started to spread her events out so she could have better rest and perform better at those,” Morrison said. “Maggie is quite capable of swimming any event and qualifying for states except for maybe the 100 breaststroke, but otherwise Maggie’s a very accomplished swimmer and she’s very focused on what she needs to do. We look forward to her having a great season this year.”
Chirayath said her workout regime has mostly stayed the same since making the move to the high school level.
“I pretty much do the same events for Y and high school, so I do the same workouts,” Chirayath said. “It varies sometimes depending on the coach, but not very much.”
A key to Chirayath’s success has been her supporting cast. She swam the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay with Paione, Emma Paradie and Lily Russell last year. The relay team finished ninth in the 200 and 10th in the 400 at the state meet. Paione and Paradie will serve as the team captains this season.
Paione is Edward Little’s most decorated swimmer as she holds the school record in the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke and the 50 freestyle. Paione is the defending state champion in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.52 seconds. She took second in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.34). She set the school record in the 100 breaststroke during KVACs last year when she finished in 1:08.03.
“She’s very inspiring,” Chirayath said. “She’s so humble about her speed and she’s just amazing to watch.”
Paione is looking to capture a few more school records before graduating from Edward Little, the 100 backstroke being the top priority.
“I never expected to get a record,” Paione said. “Sophomore year I think it was the first week of the season I got 2:19 on my 200 IM and the record was 2:16 and I’m like “This is doable,” so I kept working on my IM and I got it at KVAC with a 2:13. I didn’t know where I’d be at this point, but it’s going to be sad being my last year.”
Morrison believes Chirayath will be able to fill Paione’s shoes next year as her times will steadily improve throughout the course of this season as well as in her junior and senior campaigns.
As for the team itself, Morrison is looking for a quality showing at the state meet. The Red Eddies finished 13th last year. This year Morrison would like to see them inch toward the top 10.