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  • Matt Ondesko

Diving In

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

By Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos courtesy of Michaela Morgus

It’s meet day. As you enter the pool there is that unique smell of chlorine in the air. This is your home. There is where it all began, your dreams, your aspirations. The outside word doesn’t matter as soon as you open those doors and walk in - ready for the next challenge.

As you step up the blocks, you notice the other competitors on each side of you. This isn’t about them, however, this is about you - your teammates. You are focused, extremely focused to do your best.

You don’t care about what those around you are doing. You know that if you swim your best that everything will fall into place. It always does. It’s almost time. All the practice you have put in during the week comes down to this day.

You step up to the water. You dip your hand in the pool. You splash some water your suit. You need to get the feel of the water. You need to become one with the pool. This is how you know you are ready. The water feels perfect, you can’t wait to dive in and get ready.

You step up tot block, the guns sounds and you dive in. It’s your best event. You feel good with every stroke you take. You know you got this one in the bag. As you turn your head to get some air, you can see out of the corner of your eye that you are blowing away the competition.

Victory never felt so good.

This victory feels a little bit better knowing there are college coaches in the stands watching every breathe you take - every move you make. They want to see how you prepare for the meet. They want to see how you perform when you know you have a great chance of winning.

The recruiting process is a tough one for high school athletes. They think they know what they are getting into - but in reality they don’t. Coaches will take a look at everything when deciding if they want to send out an offer.

Coaches will see how you react in the pool, in the classroom and on social media. That’s a lot to take in for a 16-year-0ld who just wants to continue their sport at the next level.

Lancaster High School swimmer Michaela Morgus knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in the pool. Her time at Lancaster has been one of success. She has had a stellar career that a lot of Division I coaches took notice off.

But, it was the University at Buffalo that had everything that Morgus wanted. They offered a top-notch swim program, and is considered one of the best academic school around.

“I’m so grateful. There are so many talented swimmers in WNY and all over, and to be recruited by college coaches is a dream come true,” stated Morgus. “When deciding on a college, I took academics into account first. I knew that UB offered a level of academics that would allow me to excel after college. While on my recruiting trip, the positive team atmosphere convinced me that UB was a place I could see myself growing as a swimmer and a person, and I knew that’s where I wanted to spend the next four years, surrounded by coaches and teammates that truly want to make me better.”

Being a triplet, family is important for Morgus. So is making sure she is a well-rounded athlete. While being an accomplished swimmer, Morgus is also a sold basketball player. She took up the sport at age 4 and still plays this day.

While letting her still play with her friends Morgus also uses other sports to keep her in shape - and stay injury free. It’s something that a lot of athletes don’t do anymore. More and more athletes now just focus on one sport for 12 months a year.

Morgus makes sure she stays well-rounded.

“After the State Championships in November, I moved right in to basketball season. I’ve been playing since the fourth grade, and wanted to finish strong my senior year,” stated Morgus. “A lot of athletes like to focus on one sport, but I believe in the benefits of cross training. Being a multi-sport athlete has kept me from injuries, maintained my interest in the sport, and made me more well-rounded. I’ve been swimming on my own occasionally, however, when basketball season ends I’ll start swimming regularly in order to prepare for my freshman season at UB.”

Swimming at the highest level is not easy. Morgus can attest to the daily grind she puts in the pool to be great. Swimmers maybe the only athletes that use every single muscle in their body. Think about all those times diving in the pool and just trying to swim a lap - just to  feel tired half way through.

Swim training can be some of the most intense training. You aren’t only training physically, but mentally as well. You are training on how to breathe when in the water. A lot of things that you probably don’t think of.

“Being a triplet and having two brothers, I’ve been exposed to all kinds of sports. With the experience I’ve been fortunate to have, I can honestly say that swimming is, by far, the most challenging, both mentally and physically,” stated Morgus. “In what other sport do you use every muscle in your body to propel yourself forward, and all the while holding your breath? Swim training is very intense, but so worth it.”

Her career was well worth it at Lancaster, but not for the reasons many people may think. Sure, Morgus was a “Legend” in the pool. She dominated the competition meet in and meet out. She broke records and won championships.

It’s the friendships that she will take away the most from Lancaster. It’s the team bonding on the road trips. It’s having a normal high school life.

“As my high school career comes to end, it’s not the wins and personal bests that stand out,” said Morgus. “What stands out the most to me is the lifelong bonds I’ve formed with my teammates and coaches. Swimmers are a different breed of athletes, I truly believe that. I can thank the pool for introducing me to some of the hardest working, passionate, and genuine people I know.”

The pool has led her to friends, and now it is leading her to UB. Every record she set and broke at Lancaster doesn’t mean a thing when she steps on the campus of UB in the fall.

Morgus knows she will need to work extra hard during this offseason so she can be a contributor in the pool for the Bulls.

“As I enter college, I have so many academic and athletic goals. The UB women’s swim team has been recognized at the national level for its high cumulative academic average,” stated Morgus. “I hope to contribute by maintaining a 4.0 GPA while majoring in Mathematics. In the pool, I hope to get faster every year and contribute in any way I can.”


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