Izzy McGovern’s Hardfought Journey to Swimming Success

Harry Weiss, Staff Writer

Izzy McGovern ’26 had a successful first year which finished in her breaking two Dickinson records in the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley, along with winning conference titles in both the 100 and 200-yard butterfly events at the Centennial Conference Championships. Her success at the championships propelled her to All-Conference First Team honors.

McGovern’s time of 56.54 in the 100-yard butterfly broke Dickinson’s previous record of 58.18 set in 2018. Her 200-yard individual medley time of 2:05.59, for fifth in the conference, beat the previous Red Devil record of 2:09.02 from 2016.

The 200-yard butterfly has been her favorite given her comfort level with the stroke. Each of the three events she competed in, the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley, were all different challenges.

“They are all so different. I love the 200 IM [individual medley], there is always something to work on and it’s my newest good event. I kinda only got good at it this year; but, I don’t necessarily love it because I’m horrible at breaststroke and backstroke. They are my downfall by far. The 200 fly is a beast on its own, but it’s my favorite because I think I race it to the best of my abilities,” she said.

For McGovern, it was always a goal to compete highly in the conference, but in her first season she did not expect to win a title. Her intense senior season in high school paid dividends in cutting her times by a lot and she was confident comparing her senior year numbers to the previous conference champions, but expected competition from incoming college first years.

“Our conference is pretty competitive…. I did not expect to win a conference title until after the first day of finals, my coach asked us about our goals for next year. A conference title of course, but our conference is pretty competitive so I did not think it was a reality.”

“The feeling was very surreal just because I didn’t think I had it in me to race an event that well, and I was just like oh my god this is great. My team was so happy for me and so supportive. I felt so much love, getting texts, my coach was like ‘I’m so proud of you’ and I almost started crying. It was a really good feeling,” McGovern explained.

Even though her season is over, McGovern has kept open the possibility of swimming in the summer. “There are other summer meets or club swimming that I would love to do, it’s fun, it’s more experience. I don’t know yet, I will probably end up doing it just because now I think my head is in a better place with the sport just because I just ended with such a high note.”

McGovern’s winning times were only .20 seconds for the 100-yard butterfly event off of guaranteeing an appearance at Nationals.

“When you’re so close to something swimming, it’s like, if I just did this better… but I have three more years. So, now I have a fire lit in me for the next couple months of training and lifting. I know the time I want to get.”

McGovern’s journey to breaking records and standing atop podiums was challenging. In high school, she trained almost year round for four years.

“I was very burnt out at the end of my senior year. Basically all I was doing was going to class and then I would swim. I completely took the summer off. I had a very big mental block, I came in here and didn’t even know how to swim,” she admitted.

The training experience in high school compared to college was different. Instead of the year round method McGovern was used to, training began in September with captains’ practices and ended after the championships. During the training-intensive time of the year, McGovern described her poor-mental state that she had when she was not racing.

“Around the time we got back from the training trip in the winter, and before school had started, I was just in a low-mental state. We weren’t racing, all we were doing was just training really, really hard with a lot of yardage which was really difficult mentally. I hadn’t been home in a while, so it was just really hard but I’m glad I stuck it out,” she said. “I think it’s really important to talk about the mental part of it, especially with swimming, it’s hard because it’s so repetitive; you are looking at a black line for two, three hours a day, and you’re swimming lap after lap. After a while, it takes a toll on you.”

If it was not for the help her coach provided, it was likely her confidence and mental health would have continued to drop.

She said, “I give all the credit to the team and coaches. I would go to my coaches and would complain to him but they would say I know you got this, I have seen you do much harder things than this. The team is like amazing, they are my best friends.”