Swimming has been a part of Matt Magness’ life since he was 5-years-old and he hasn’t let up since.
“I started summer swimming when I was younger and starting swimming in the winter and more competitively when I was 7,” Magness said.
Because Pennsylvania isn’t a swim-heavy state, and Charles F. Patton Middle School doesn’t have a swim team, he has been a member of the Golden Ram Aquatics for the last seven years where he has coached by Ken McCormick for the last two.
“From the minute I first saw him swim, I knew he had talent,” McCormick said.
In December, Magness competed in the TYR Cup in Lancaster where he accomplished a couple feats.
Going into the meet, his goal was to achieve high-point for his age group. High-point is an individual award given to the swimmer who accumulates the most points throughout the meet
“We wanted to put him in a situation where he could do his best personally and try and get the award,” McCormick said. “Going into the last night, he had won every event he swam. I told him before the race to let it go and not hold anything back.”
With no pressure on Magness in his final race, the 200-freestyle, he did just that and let his natural ability take over.
“When he touched the wall, I was standing there with a couple other coaches and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I think he just broke the National Age Group record,’” McCormick said. “I had to look it up on my phone to double-check.”
The original 11-12 age group record was set by Nicholas Silverthorn in 2008 with a time of 1:46.23.
Magness’ time came in at 1:45.52, dropping seven seconds off his preliminary swim of 1:51.18.
“I didn’t know I was going that fast when I was doing it,” Magness said. “I didn’t know that I broke the record until a couple minutes after and some friends on the team told me. I was really excited. That was the first time I ever broke [a record] that big.”
McCormick couldn’t have been happier for Magness when it was known he broke Silverthorn’s time.
“Once I found out, I was over the moon. He’s a great kid and works so hard in practice.”
So hard, in fact, that McCormick has to come up with new ways to challenge him.
“I try to find sets for him to fail and every time I do that, he proves me wrong and makes the set,” McCormick said. “It’s a blessing to have someone like Matt leading by example in the pool.”
Afterward the TYR Cup, Magness “aged-up” into the next level so when his next meet came around in New Jersey, he was now swimming against some older kids.
“It was my first time, so I swam against 14-year-olds,” Magness said. “I didn’t do as well as I did before.”
But McCormick isn’t concerned at all by the outcome.
“As a 12-year-old, he was kind of like the man amongst the boys,” McCormick said. “In the 13-14 age group, he’s just one of the guys. He swam close to his best times in the meet. He’s going to do some special things at the end of the year at the Junior Olympics.”
Magness’ passion for being in the water and swimming shows in his results.
As far as a future in the sport, he’s unsure where it will lead, but he’s just trying to go as far as he can. In McCormick’s eyes, that could be a big future.
“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “He has the drive to want to win. Ultimately, I think the goal is to continue on the path he is, whether that leads him to swimming on a Division I college level or possibly an Olympic Trials one day, that’s something he aspires to. That’s not unattainable goals for him.”