University of Maine Boys Swimmer of the Year: Keegan McKenney, Cape Elizabeth

Senior Keegan McKenney helped lead Cape Elizabeth to a state championship for the first time since 2015. He was named the competition’s Class B performer for the second time. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Not all high school athletic careers end in storybook fashion.

For Cape Elizabeth senior Keegan McKenney, however, it all came together in a rousing chlorinated coda. Swimming in the Class B state meet in his home pool, McKenney looked up after anchoring the final 400-yard freestyle stint and saw the numbers 3:16.50 lit up.

McKenney, along with younger brother Cormac McKenney, fellow senior Ethan Smith and sophomore David Steinbrick, had broken a competitive record, won a state championship for Cape Elizabeth for the first time since 2015 and lowered a grade level which had been in force since 1983.

“It was so much fun,” Keegan McKenney said. “It was our last race and we were winning and breaking a record, it was the perfect end to my high school career.”

Minutes later, McKenney was named Performer of the Meet, an honor he also earned as a sophomore. In his four races allocated to the state meet, he won the 200m individual medley (in 1 minute, 55.62 seconds), his third straight 500m freestyle (4:41.96) and anchored the 200 and 400 winning freestyle relays.

McKenney is our Varsity Maine Boys Swimmer of the Year.

“I was very lucky to have Keegan for four years,” Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond said. “He trains very hard, he pushes his teammates and he is very accessible.”

Raymond said McKenney was never shy about helping his teammates with their starts, turns and stroke techniques.

“The kids enjoy working with him, talking with him, and it just created a great environment for all of our swimmers,” Raymond said. “He understands the value of every kid on the team giving their best. That’s the only way your team can improve.

McKenney and Smith pushed each other throughout their high school careers. They helped set school records in all three relays, the 400 freestyle this winter and the 200 medley and 200 freestyle last year with help from sophomore Cormac McKenney and 2021 grad Rishi Yadav in the first and Steinbrick and Yadav in the second.

Individually, Keegan McKenney topped the Cape Elizabeth standings in five events: the 200m individual medley, 100m butterfly and the 100, 200 and 500m freestyle. He plans to continue his swimming career at NCAA Division II Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, while Smith will do the same at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

“It was always great to look over the top in practice and see him right next to me,” McKenney said. “He’s a great training partner. Many people from my high school team also did the work. I think the record table will change a lot in the next few years.

When not in the pool, McKenney can often be found in a wetsuit on a surfboard, regardless of the season. He also enjoys hiking and works in the summer as a lifeguard. He plans to major in finance in college.

He started swimming by taking lessons through his town’s recreational program and eventually followed friends to the Coastal Maine Aquatics club. This weekend he is competing in a section competition in Ithaca, New York.

In September, he was named to the USA Swimming Scholastic All-America team, which requires at least a 3.5 GPA as well as a national qualifying time. McKenney clocked her time in the 200-meter butterfly in Greensboro, North Carolina.

After trying Ultimate Frisbee in eighth grade, McKenney shunned other sports in high school and focused on swimming.

“I love going in the water every day,” he said. “I can go in and focus on what I’m doing and not think about anything else that’s going on during the day.”

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