Cony High School senior Adam McNeff is one of the more laid-back swimmers on the team according to coach Jon Millett. That changes when McNeff hits the water.
“Once I dive into the water I get this drive to succeed and go faster than I have before,” McNeff said.
That drive propelled McNeff to break school records this year in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly. He later finished seventh in both events at the Class A state meet.
For his efforts, McNeff has been selected Kennebec Journal Boys Swimmer of the Year. Cony freshman Noah Aube and Monmouth sophomore Joe Manduca, who practices with Cony, were also considered.
McNeff and his younger sister Kayley are both home-schooled and compete for the Rams swim team. Millett said McNeff has improved steadily over the past three seasons as he’s matured and grown, but he saw his competitive side early on in his high school career.
“He’s a great competitor and a great teammate,” Millett said. “He never gives up until the last stroke is swum. That isn’t something you teach somebody.”
McNeff sets personal goals this season to break school records in the butterfly and individual medley. Millett said improvement this season in McNeff’s butterfly and breaststroke were the main reason for his record-breaking run in the individual medley. McNeff said he got a faster kick going under the water in his butterfly and flattened his form in the breaststroke. He credits Kennebec Valley YMCA swim coach Mike Schmidt for much of his improvement.
“He really improved all of my strokes with technique,” McNeff said. “I give him the credit how my stroke mechanics look now. We’ve been working on it all four years.”
McNeff gets nervous before every race he said but once he dives into the pool it all goes away. As a home-schooled student he has only himself and at times his sister with whom to compete with for grades. Likewise, he enjoys the individual nature of swimming and racing against his previous best times.
But there also comes a point where you have to beat the swimmer next to you, and this attitude doesn’t jive with McNeff’s congenial nature, at last outside the pool.
“He can get along with anybody,” Millett said. “Everybody liked him. I think (the pool) is a place where he can get competitive.”
McNeff’s still practices with the Y team now and then but he realizes his competitive swimming career is over.
“I’ll miss it a lot,” he said. “Seeing all my friends and the people you spend every day with.”
He’s considered joining the Air Force next year or perhaps enrolling in the new aviation program at the University of Maine at Augusta with an eye toward becoming a commercial pilot.
“I like being above the clouds,” he said. “The sun’s always out up there.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638