Crawfordsville girls swimming and diving had plenty of reasons for them to have a down year. A young team that features just two upperclassmen surrounded by 11 underclassmen. Instead, CHS continued their sustained success which included second place finishes in both the Sagamore Conference and the sectional.
Leading the way all season long was sophomore Sophia Melevage. After qualifying for the State Finals in her freshman season, Melevage only got better in her second season with CHS. At the sectional, the standout sophomore went a perfect 4-4 in her events, winning a sectional title in the 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly and helping the 200 freestyle and 200 yard medley relay teams to first place finishes. The 200 freestyle relay time of 1:58.76 broke the school record for the Athenians that was held since 2018.
“It’s great for our other young swimmers to see the leadership that Sophia gives us,” Crawfordsville coach Kevin Hedrick said. “Even though she’s young still she wasn’t afraid to lead. She’s been in the pool for a long time now with Sugar Creek (Sugar Creek Swim Club) and our success is highly because of kids and parents like her who are devoted and dedicated year-round to the sport. With that you can see that she’s a really advanced swimmer for her age.”
With her leadership and what she and the Athenians were able to accomplish yet again this season, Melevage has earned the title of the 2022-23 Journal Review Girls Swimmer of the Year.
Melevage credits her other teammates as well for helping step in to help lead.
“Guinevere (Schmitzer-Torbert) and Elle (Walker) helped all year,” Melevage said. “I tried to step into that role as best I could and get everyone in line when we needed it. I think I struggled a little bit with the pressure aspect of things but my teammates and coaches helped me a lot with that, but it did feel good to be able to come through when they needed me the most.”
As she gets into her junior and senior season’s Hedrick is confident as ever that not only will Melevage continue to get better in the pool, but continue to be the steady leader for the Athenians as they continue their upward trajectory.
“We’re crossing our fingers that will continue,” Hedrick added. “We don’t have any reason why she shouldn’t continue the path that she’s on. We’re very blessed that she’s been able to fill so many roles in our lineup and lead like she has. The biggest thing for us is that as a team, we’ll let her step away from that leadership role if need be because you don’t want to over-do things with young kids.”
Melevage, as Hedrick eluded to earlier, has been swimming ever since she was young girl. The love for the pool over the years has led her to where she is today. Along with being a star-swimmer for CHS, she is also one of the lead cross-country and distance runners on the track team for the Athenians. While she enjoys success in those sports, the pool is where Melevage thrives.
“I’ve been swimming ever since I was seven years old,” she said. “I enjoy being in the pool at lot more than I do running so it feels easier for me to perform as well as I have. The love I have for the sport will just make me work that much harder to be the best I can be. I’m going to begin weight training and be in the pool as much as I can so that make sure I continue to be at my best.”
With two more seasons under her belt Melevage according to Hedrick is on the path of becoming “elite”.
“We saw a ton of growth with her and she’s going through the transition right now of what it takes to be an elite athlete,” he said. “That’s a hard thing to do but she has the ability to mature and advance into that top tier. Athletes like her see the difference between hard work and working hard. That was really our team mantra was to work hard while doing hard work. Everything has to have a purpose and Sophia knows that and takes that to heart. She’s on the right path and it’s going to be fun to watch her these next few years.”
The sky is the limit for what Melevage can accomplish. Two seasons and two state final appearances under her belt. She is looking to carry the torch and be the next great Athenian female swimmer.