LAGRANGE – It’s her event.
Each summer, Maddie Paschal along with many of her teammates on the Georgia Tech swim team, competes in the senior long-course state championship.
This year’s state meet, which brings together the elite swimmers in Georgia, was held in Cumming last month.
Paschal, a LaGrange High graduate, is an all-around successful swimmer, but the backstroke is her specialty.
Paschal won the 50 backstroke in 2014 and 2015, and she was committed to making it a three-peat at this year’s state meet.
She made it happen.
Paschal won the 50 backstroke once again, and she was also third in the 100 backstroke, fifth in the 200 backstroke, and 14th in the 50 freestyle.
“That’s probably my favorite event, and I’ve been able to win that event the last three years swimming with Georgia Tech,” Paschal said of the 50 free. “That’s been a lot of fun.”
Paschal said Georgia Tech’s coach encourages the swimmers to participate in the state meet.
It’s a way for the swimmers to get some solid competition, and to spread the word about the program.
“For Georgia Tech during the summer, that’s kind of our big meet that we swim,” Paschal said. “Our coaches really want us to represent what Georgia Tech swimming is about, to show swimmers that are interested in college swimming what Georgia Tech represents.”
Paschal is preparing for the final season of what has been an exceptional collegiate career.
Paschal’s best season was her most recent one.
During the 2015-2016 season, Paschal had career-best times in five events, and she set the school record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 54.10 seconds.
Paschal was also a part of teams that set school records in the 200 freestyle relay, the 200 medley relay and the 400 medley relay.
Paschal also has the program’s fourth fastest time in the 200 backstroke.
“It’s really cool to see my name up on a record board during practice,” Paschal said. “When I came in my freshman year, it wasn’t even something I thought could be possible. But over the course of my first three years, it was something I realized was possible, and I was able to achieve it this past season. I’m hoping to improve upon these records this next year.”
After an exceptional high-school career, Paschal signed with Georgia Tech.
Paschal was a contributor as a freshman, posting times among the top 10 on the team in four different events.
As a sophomore, Paschal was selected as the team’s most-improved swimmer, and she posted all-time top-10 times in two individual events, and two relays.
Paschal then had an outstanding junior season where she became one of Georgia Tech’s best and most consistent performers.
Paschal said the improvement she has made during her time at Georgia Tech is “something I’m really proud of.”
“I’ve had high goals for myself when I came into school,” Paschal said. “Swimming, it’s a sport you can work really hard in individually, and what you put in is what you’re going to get out of it. I’ve always shot for bigger goals. When I achieve something the previous year, it’s OK to be happy with that goal, but then you’ve got to reach for something even bigger.”
Paschal will soon embark on what will likely be her final season as a competitive swimmer.
“It’s gone by really fast, and it’s crazy to think that I started swimming at age 7, and I’m going into my last year of training ever,” Paschal said. “So it’s going to be weird adjusting to not having to swim. There’ll be a lot more free time.”
Paschal’s younger sister, Allie Paschal, is a senior at LaGrange High, and she is also an accomplished swimmer.
Maddie Paschal is looking forward to seeing what Allie accomplishes in the coming years.
“It’s really exciting,” Maddie Paschal said. “She’s improved a lot, and she’s having fun swimming, and we’re all excited to see what she can do her last year of high school, and where she will end up for her last four years of swimming.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports