Senior Keegan McKenney helped lead Cape Elizabeth to a state championship for the first time since 2015. He was named Class B Performer of the Meet for the second time. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Not all high school athletic careers end in storybook fashion.

For Cape Elizabeth senior Keegan McKenney, however, everything came together in a rousing chlorinated coda. Swimming in the Class B state meet at his home pool, McKenney looked up after anchoring the concluding 400-yard freestyle relay and saw the numbers 3:16.50 illuminated.

McKenney, along with younger brother Cormac McKenney, fellow senior Ethan Smith and sophomore David Steinbrick, had broken a meet record, won a state championship for Cape Elizabeth for the first time since 2015, and lowered a school standard that had stood since 1983.

“That was so much fun,” Keegan McKenney said. “It being our last race and us winning and breaking a record, it was the perfect ending to my high school career.”

Minutes later, McKenney was named Performer of the Meet, an honor he also earned as a sophomore. In his allotted four races at the state meet, he won the 200 individual medley (in 1 minute, 55.62 seconds), his third straight 500 freestyle (4:41.96) and anchored the winning 200 and 400 free relays.

McKenney is our Varsity Maine Boys’ Swimmer of the Year.

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“I’ve been super lucky to have Keegan for four years,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Ben Raymond. “He trains really hard, he pushes his teammates and he’s very approachable.”

Raymond said McKenney never hesitated to help teammates with their starts, their turns and their stroke techniques.

“The kids appreciate working with him, talking with him, and it has just built a great environment for all of our swimmers,” Raymond said. “He understands the value of every kid on the team performing at their best. That’s the only way your team is going to get better.”

McKenney and Smith pushed each other throughout their high school careers. They helped establish school records in all three relays, the 400 free this winter and the 200 medley and 200 free last year with help from sophomore Cormac McKenney and 2021 graduate Rishi Yadav in the former and Steinbrick and Yadav in the latter.

Individually, Keegan McKenney put his name atop the Cape Elizabeth leaderboard in five events: 200 individual medley, 100 butterfly and the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle. He plans to continue his swimming career at NCAA Division II Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, while Smith will do likewise at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

“It’s always been awesome to look over in practice and see him right beside me,” McKenney said. “He’s a great training partner. A lot of the people on my high school team have been doing the work, too. I think the record board’s going to change a lot in the next few years.”

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When not in the pool, McKenney can often be found in a wetsuit atop a surfboard, no matter the season. He also enjoys hiking and works summers as a lifeguard. He is considering a finance major in college.

He started swimming through lessons in his town recreation program and eventually followed friends to the Coastal Maine Aquatics club. This weekend, he’s competing at a sectional meet in Ithaca, New York.

In September, he was named to the USA Swimming Scholastic All-America Team, which requires at least a 3.5 grade-point average as well as a national qualifying time. McKenney achieved his time in the 200-meter butterfly in Greensboro, North Carolina.

After dabbling with Ultimate frisbee in eighth grade, McKenney shunned other sports in high school and concentrated on swimming.

“I enjoy getting in the water every day,” he said. “I can go in and just focus on what I’m doing and not think about anything else that’s happening during the day.”

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