Meaghan Rauscher will finish her 10th year with Greater Augusta Swimming this summer. As she has gained experience, her role has matured.
She's still competing, but she's also serving as an assistant coach.
"I'm actually starting to feel old coaching some of the younger groups," she said. "They tell me, 'You've been swimming longer than I've been alive.' "
During the past decade, Rauscher has advanced from the organization's lowest group to its highest. Don't mistake her career for one that is about to end, however. In some ways, it is just beginning.
Before her recent graduation ceremony, the home-schooled senior made her dream of competing as a collegiate swimmer a reality. She signed a letter of intent to swim next fall at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.
The decision to swim at the Division I school was a multifaceted one. According to her coach, Jeff Rout, Rauscher had plenty of options regarding where to compete in college.
"Meaghan could have gone to a big Division I school, but maybe not made the traveling team her first year," Rout said. "She could have gone to a smaller school and been a team record-holder right away.
"At East Carolina, she will contribute right away."
Rauscher said she wanted the big-school atmosphere because she has heard about it -- and seen it -- first-hand. Her father swam for the U.S. Naval Academy, while her mother attended Penn State. Her grandparents live near Clemson, so she has enjoyed plenty of football game days.
In addition, her sister, Courtney, just finished her sophomore season playing tennis at Virginia Tech.
Rauscher will primarily swim her best event, the 200-meter butterfly, at East Carolina. She also will compete in the individual medley and will get to swim other events at smaller meets.
Rauscher said she looks forward to swimming in dual meets against other schools.
"I'm really excited to have a bunch of other girls there, a lot of competitiveness on the team," said Rauscher, who comes in with personal best times of 2:03.85 in the 200 fly and 4:31.38 in the 400 individual medley.
"Being home-schooled, I never had the high school swimming experience," she said.
Rout believes being home-schooled helped Rauscher to tailor her study schedule around her training.
"She's very smart, very analytical," Rout said. "One of the things that makes it a lot of fun to coach is when a kid gets smart enough to take ownership. She tells you what happened during the race. It's a real give and take of ideas."
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