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All-City girls swimming: Shawnee's Piper McNeil begins high school career with impressive season

McNeil
McNeil

SHAWNEE — Piper McNeil maintained a carefree attitude throughout her first high school swimming season.

The freshman was excited to compete for Shawnee and rarely felt anxious.

“I don’t like to put a lot of pressure on myself,” she said. “I just like to see whatever happens.”

McNeil had one of the best freshman seasons in state history, proving she has the talent to have a historic career at Shawnee.

McNeil dominated the Class 6A state meet in February. She set the Class 6A record in the 100-yard backstroke, completing the race in 55.49 seconds. She also won the 200 individual medley (2:04.58) and led Shawnee to a victory in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:41.12.

McNeil is The Oklahoman’s All-City Girls Swimmer of the Year.

McNeil was an elite swimmer as she entered high school but didn’t know what to expect in her debut season. She exceeded her own expectations.

“I wasn’t expecting much because I’m a freshman,” she said.

Shawnee coach Valarie Colburn has known McNeil since she was in elementary school. McNeil’s special talent quickly became apparent as she competed for her team at the local YMCA.

“Even at a young age, she pushed the other kids, made the other kids better,” Colburn said.

Colburn isn’t surprised by McNeil’s recent success.

“I’m thankful she’s on our team,” Colburn said. “She is quite an athlete. Talent only takes you so far if you don’t work hard. She works harder than any kid I know. She puts in the extra time.”

McNeil estimates she started swimming when she was around 7.

Her father, Robert, starred in track and field and competed at Oklahoma State.

Piper wants to swim in college but isn’t necessarily thinking about life beyond high school at this point. Right now, she is focused on continuing to improve.

“I really like to work hard,” she said. “It’s just satisfying when you see it pay off.”

Nick Sardis

Nick Sardis joined The Oklahoman in 2017, and he covers high school sports. Born and raised in Norman, he played baseball at Norman North High School and is a student at the University of Oklahoma. Read more ›

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