For three years Olivia Muchewicz was the understudy for the Medina girls swimming team.
As the Bees head into the Lakewood Division I Sectional on Saturday, the student has become the teacher and is ready to take her team to new heights.
A four-event district qualifier the last two seasons, Muchewicz always analyzed how Lexi Agee led Medina during a four-year career that included a Medina County a record in the 500-yard freestyle and school records in the 200 free, 200 individual medley and 200 free relay.
Agee finished her senior season last year with state qualifications in the 200 and 500 free and then handed the baton off to Muchewicz.
“She learned a lot from Lexi and those before her,” coach Anthony Petruzzi said. “She has really grown in the last four years. Probably more than many even know. She’s become a really good team leader. She rallies the troops and gets the girls ready to swim. Doing that is a huge reason we have had such good success the last two years.”
For Muchewicz, it was more than just watching how Agee attacked the season with fervor. It wasn’t just about how she built herself up through the season so she would peak at the end, but more how she looked at each meet as an individual and team leader.
“I always looked up to Lexi,” Muchewicz said. “She worked so hard. She had that work ethic where I wish I could be more like her when I was swimming with her. She always had that attitude where she was worried about others and tried to motivate others. It was a big reason why we had so much success. Being on the relays was awesome because she was so much faster. She made us want to do better.”
As the squad heads up to Busbey Natatorium Saturday for the noon meet, Muchewicz comes in with school records in the 100 back (58.71) and 200 free relay (1:40.50).
She’ll swim the 50 free, 100 back and two relays that are to be determined.
“Olivia has really come into her ability the last few years,” teammate Emily Walburn said. “She’ll tell you herself that her freshman year her times were nowhere near her times like this year, but her work ethic is very similar to Lexi. They’re confident every time they show up.
“She’s not oblivious to the pressure, but it doesn’t get to her. She always has confidence in herself, but it’s never too much. “
That confidence shows as Muchewicz has the fastest times on the team in the 50 free (24.76), 100 free (55.51), 100 back (58.71), 100 butterfly (1:02.27), 200 IM (2:22.34), 200 free relay (1:44.89), 200 medley relay (1:56.24) and 400 free relay (3:51.85).
Those times aren’t just indicative of a leader, they’re the very root of someone who isn’t going to let any kind of setback detour her from being all she can be.
“When you know that’s how a kid feels at different times of the year and how beat up they are at certain times, but know you’ll get 110 percent, that’s invaluable,” Petruzzi said. “She always gives that. She has her sights set beyond the next two weeks.
“Now, she understands the process of three big meets in a row. She understands just by growth, maturity and learning, she understands what needs to be done.”
Muchewicz, Walburn and the other leaders have already had a team meeting to discuss eliminating the what-ifs that creep into swimmers before big meets.
She’s got a plan in place moving forward and has unbridled determination that she’s ready to pass on to the next in line.
“I feel so much more motivated this year,” Muchewicz said. “I feel like this has been my best win so far. I know how far I’ve come just this season alone. That’s motivated me. Seeing how far my team has come has motivated me, too.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.