By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
It’s difficult to tell by her results alone, but Floyd Central junior Meg Taylor was one of the most improved area swimmers during the 2013-14 season.
Already a multiple-time state finalist, Taylor made four state finals in 2014 and had career-best finishes in her individual events at the IHSAA State Finals last month.
That doesn’t tell the entire story of Taylor’s junior season.
While she was strong in the past, Taylor dominated the competition in her junior season to become the clear choice for the 2013-14 News and Tribune Area Girls’ Swimmer of the Year.
“If you look at her times in the [200-yard freestyle], even though she moved up only one spot [at state], her time was almost two seconds faster [than as a sophomore],” Floyd coach Joe Perkins said. “Indiana is just a fast swimming state.”
Taylor said continued development came with hard work before and during the season.
“I think [the improvement] was definitely due to my training,” she said. “We kind of bumped it up this year.”
Taylor qualified for state in the 200 and 500 freestyle as a sophomore. With teammate Amy McCormick also strong in those two events, Perkins asked Taylor to switch from the 500 free to the 100 free prior to the 2013-14 season.
“It was definitely a little nerve-wracking because I didn’t know how I would perform in the 100,” Taylor said, “but I’m happy with the decision. I think I’ll stick with it. I definitely think next year I could be top-eight in the state in the 100 free. It felt weird to switch, but it definitely worked out.”
“Her 100 free time was better and better as the year went on as she made the move from the 500 free,” Perkins observed. “[The switch] was better for the team and became a strong event for her. I think it fell into place for her.”
Although it worked out with a sectional championship and a 10th-place finish at state in the 100 — the highest finish of her career — Taylor had to come out of her comfort level as a distance swimmer to swim an event with sprinting elements to it.
The end result was a Hoosier Hills Conference title and the Highlanders’ seventh straight sectional crown.
“She’s willing to do whatever’s best in scoring situations for us,” Perkins said.
Taylor also accomplished something no one had since 1996. Former Floyd Central and Auburn University star Brooke Monroe set the standard in every event for the Highlanders. Monroe still held every individual Floyd record until Taylor bettered her mark in both the 100 and 200 free. She set the marks with a 51.71-second time in the 100 and a 1:52.74 in the 200.
“It meant a lot,” Taylor said of breaking Monroe’s records. “Getting your name on the [record] board was one of my goals and she was a great swimmer. Breaking that was such a great accomplishment and very exciting.”
Perkins said Taylor is capable of swimming faster and making her first state championship heat in 2015.
“We try to get up our program so kids improve over four years,” the News and Tribune Girls’ Swimming Coach of the Year said. “She had tremendous improvement this year, but I think there’s a lot more room to improve for her in her individual events.”
“I’m definitely going to keep working,” Taylor said. “I’m going to keep going at it and hope for the best.”
2013-14 NEWS AND TRIBUNE ALL-AREA TEAM
Meg Taylor, Floyd Central junior (Swimmer of the Year)
Layah Jones, Floyd Central sophomore
Alexis Lete, New Albany junior
Amy McCormick, Floyd Central senior
Maryn Meldrum, Floyd Central junior
Jacqueline Richard, Jeffersonville freshman
Reagan Thom, New Albany sophomore
Lauren Batliner, Floyd Central senior
Amelia Blankenbeker, Jeffersonville sophomore
Elizabeth Browne, Jeffersonville junior
Kali Crace, Jeffersonville junior
Jessica Ingram, Floyd Central sophomore
Lauren Kessinger, Jeffersonville junior
Amber Leininger, Jeffersonville junior
Caitlin Davenport, Floyd Central; Adeline Dixon, Jeffersonville; Sam Glover, Jeffersonville; Kartrina Klingsmith, Floyd Central; Alex Jamison, Floyd Central; Anna Lowney, Floyd Central; Yanna Martin, Jeffersonville; Jessica Pinnick, Floyd Central; Kelsey Pinnick, Floyd Central; Emma Reas, New Albany; Erica Romans, Jeffersonville; Kaitlin Sullivan, Silver Creek.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Joe Perkins, Floyd Central