The Deep End

Madelyn Grueter ’23 has learned lessons through swimming that will last a lifetime.


The echoing cheers hushed as the official whistled and she stepped onto the block. A distorted “take your mark” was followed by a short electronic beep that signaled the start of the race. As she submerged under the bright blue water, everything went silent. 

Her first 200 IM didn’t go especially well. She went all out on the butterfly, leaving little energy for the rest of her race. However, Madelyn Grueter ’23 did have a key takeaway from that experience. 

“There was this older girl from the other team and she was waiting in the heat behind me, and she was just cheering me on and telling me to go. . .so I just thought that was really nice, and I try to incorporate that into how I swim and how I cheer people on at meets,” Grueter said. 

Grueter really appreciates little moments like those, and strives to make others feel good and use lessons learned from swimming in her daily life. Paige Albright ‘23, Grueter’s friend, said in an email that, “She is super great at advice (probably because she loves Pinterest so much), but really knows what to say and when to say it.”

Besides being a supportive friend and teammate, she knows from swim that your results depend on the effort you put in. 

“You have to actually show up to get better,” said Grueter. 

Grueter works very hard at practice and does her best to learn everything she can. Her coach and science teacher, Byron Butler, said “She works extremely hard in the pool, weight room, and the classroom.” Further, he said that she is very coachable and good at self reflection when the coaches have too many swimmers to give personal attention to each one.

“You’re never going to be exactly like someone else, and each person has their own definition of successful and happy.”

— Madelyn Grueter '23

Additionally, she’s tried to limit comparing herself to others. She said that whether it’s a sport or a different aspect of life, “You’re never going to be exactly like someone else, and each person has their own definition of successful and happy.”

She’s also learned how to manage her time wisely. Since starting competitive club swimming in sixth grade, she’s gone to quite a few practices each week. Now that she’s a high schooler, it’s even more intense. Often times, she only gets around 6 hours of sleep after a meet.

“Because of swimming, I don’t have any free time, ever,” Grueter said. She usually doesn’t mind that most of her weekdays are booked up, because she isn’t sure what she would do with the extra time she would have if she wasn’t a swimmer. 

Even with this little time to finish her homework, she manages to stay right on top of it. “She has everything done ahead of time, and she puts her 200 percent into everything. All of her work is organized and neat, just like her,” Albright said. 

Swimming has become a habit for her, and it feels strange when she doesn’t have practice after school. She said that with some more time in the day, she would probably catch up on sleep – something most high schoolers can relate to. 

Grueter says that high school swim is more technique and team-focused, and she enjoys seeing her friends and hanging out at practice. She loves the little successes, such as when she nails a wall or when her stroke is really good, technique-wise. She looks up to not only Olympic swimmers like Katie Ledecky, but some of her teammates as well. 

“There are people on my swim team who just show great leadership or they have great technique, and I try to be more like them.” 

Aside from swimming, she participates in Best Buddies at West High and is excited to get into that. Grueter says one of her most noteworthy characteristics is her attention to detail. “I don’t know if this is the best way to describe it, but I’m kind of OCD, like super organized in my brain. . .I’m a perfectionist.” 

Grueter not only manages, but thrives, as she balances a spot on the swim team with schoolwork, clubs and a social life. Whether or not she decides to swim in college, Grueter will carry the insight gained at practice and meets long into the future.