Megan Keil becomes fastest female swimmer in Kansas high school history
In one hand, she held a state championship medal and had her graduation cap in the other.
Derby senior Megan Keil set the Kansas high school record in the 50-yard freestyle on Saturday at the Class 6A state championship meet, swimming it in 22.70 seconds. And she did it on her graduation day.
Keil knew she would have to choose between competing at the state meet and walking at graduation, but she got the best of both when she was handed her green Derby cap.
Still, there was a struggle there. As Saturday got closer and her friends got more excited to walk across the stage, Keil said she started to have second thoughts.
"But I know that if I was there, I would want to be here," she said. "No regrets."
The 50-yard freestyle is the shortest, fastest race in Kansas. It is one length of the pool and back, and no high school girl in Kansas has ever done it quicker. Keil said the implications of her state record hadn't set in.
"It means a lot," she said. "I've been doing this for so long, so it's nice that all that work pays off."
After her record time, the pool was opened for swimmers to warm up and, for some, cool down. Keil got out of the pool for a second and hopped back in. One of her best friends, East's Gillian Pierce-Butt jumped in and swam to her.
They talked about the record, and Pierce-Butt said Keil told her she was upset.
The time she set was already her personal best. She wanted to be better. She always has. Derby coach Bronwynne Queen said Keil told her as a freshman she was going after that state record.
"There is nothing more to say," Derby coach Bronwynne Queen said. "She's amazing. She works hard. She pushes herself. She pushes her team. I feel like I say it over and over again.
"But she has something new to say every time she gets in that pool."
Keil is committed to swim at Missouri. She said there are still so many steps she intends to take, but for now, she will have to settle with one of the greatest achievements in Kansas swimming history.
"Outside of Kansas, there are a lot of competitions," she said. "This is a fast meet, but it's not representative of everywhere. And then college will be a whole new level."