Athlete of the Issue: Megan Howard

Jackie Steele and Maddie Nicolaisen

by Jackie Steele and Maddie Nicolaisen

 

Although many decide to end their swimming careers early on due to the commitment and physical demands it requires, Megan Howard has stuck with the sport since she was four, and has reaped meaningful rewards.

She initially started swimming to spend more time with her sister, and after realizing she had a passion for it, continued swimming at Orinda Country Club from ages six to 12, qualifying to compete in the county meet for the first time on a relay as a six year old.

To get more intensive training, Howard began swimming for Orinda Aquatics in the seventh grade.

“I was really scared, and at first reluctant to try it,” Howard said. “OA is a lot more training and yardage, but it’s also fun to try new events and have the opportunity to go to bigger meets.”

Once she reached high school, Howard began participating in Miramonte swimming as one of the few freshmen in her class to compete as a varsity swimmer. Howard plays a major role on the team both in and out of the pool as a team captain, working with her fellow captains  to lead and support her teammates.

“Team captains help choose the team gear and theme, lead cheers every practice and get to know all the swimmers on the team. We try to encourage and motivate other swimmers, especially during difficult sets,” Howard said.

A typical practice for Howard consists of 6000 yards,  which is 240 laps. Throughout the week, Howard participates in nine swim practices, a total of 30 hours, three of which start at 5:45 am.

Howard’s main events are the 400 and 200-yard individual medley, but her favorite event to swim is the 100 breast.

“I like that you can change strokes, it gets boring doing the same stroke for extended period of time, and in practice I get to choose what stroke I get to do each day. But backstroke is hardest part.”

Before a race, Howard likes to socialize to calm her nerves.

“I try to be as relaxed as possible. I like talking to people before races to calm me down,” Howard said. “I also try to stay hydrated; I bring my water bottle with me everywhere.”

What Howard enjoys most about her sport is the sense of accomplishment it gives her. Whether she wins or not, Howard gives her all and tries to be the best at whatever she takes on.

“I like challenging myself everyday in practice, and seeing the results when it comes time for the championship meet. You get out what you put in.”

This year Howard broke a record at NCS swimming as the anchor in the 200 Freestyle relay along with her teammates Kristen Hong, Erin Schoenfield, and Elise Goetzl.

In order to stay motivated, Howard counts on the friendships she’s made.

“It’s actually a really social sport. It helps having that support system.”

In her limited spare time, Howard likes to bake, hike and spend time with her friends. If Howard wasn’t swimming, she would have participated in the WISE program and gotten her pilot’s license. Although swimming is the only sport she competes in, Howard has tried her hand at soccer, tennis and basketball in elementary school. Howard skies, golfs and wakeboards recreationally.

Next year Howard will be swimming at the Naval Academy, and accredits her desire to enroll to the outstanding morale and many doors it could open.

“I love the overall atmosphere; all the traditions, school spirit, swim team and the options for my future.”

Howard looks forward to taking unique and interesting classes, and bonding with her teammates at her next destination, Maryland.