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  • Writer's pictureHugo Traverso

Eric McDonell Secures First State Podium for Newman in School History

Cardinal Newman sophomore swimmer Eric McDonell finished 4th in the 50 yard freestyle Paralympic Class I and 3rd in the 100 yard freestyle Paralympic Class I in the CIF State Championships Saturday at Clovis West High School in Fresno. McDonell, a first year swimmer at Newman, swam a 28.75 50 yard freestyle, placing 4th, narrowly behind Nathaniel Grabowski of Clovis West with a 28.55 and Isaac Adelstein of Davis High School with a 28.42. NCS Champion Tyler McMillan of Northgate won the event with a 26.25. He had set a personal record of 25.44 last week in Concord at NCS where Eric McDonell took second, also setting a new personal record of 30.47. McDonell smashed that PR Saturday by over 1½ seconds.

30 minutes later, McDonell smashed another one of his PRs in the 100, breaking his previous PR of 1:04.60 by 1.4 seconds, going 1:03.20 and scoring a podium finish for the Cards. Only McMillan, who went sub 1 minute for the first time in his career according to Swimcoud, and Adelstein were able to go faster than McDonell. McMillan went 1:01.06 en route to his second NCS Championship in Concord, only beating McDonell, who took 2nd, by 3 seconds. McMillan finished with 59.47, Adelstein finished with 1:02.38 and McDonell followed them with a 1:03.20, taking bronze. “It feels pretty good. It’s kinda shocking,” McDonell said. “It’s my first year. I wasn’t expecting to make it this far. It’s been quite a journey, I’m really excited,” McDonell exclaimed after his 3rd place finish in the 100 freestyle. 

What McDonell has accomplished is incredible. His podium is the first in school history. He is only a sophomore, but is already one of the most accomplished swimmers in Cardinal Newman history.

At the start of the year, his 50 time was a near 40 seconds and his 100 time was a 1:47. He has done the unthinkable and dropped 12 seconds in his 50 and 44 seconds in his 100. He finished Top 4 in both his events which were very competitive this year. Allie Davis and Jack Niles coached the Cardinals this year and came in not knowing much of the team. Davis had this to say about Eric, “Coaching Eric was a major highlight this season. He is a true athlete through and through - incredible work ethic, high integrity, and a mindset geared for success. He will go far.” Jack reiterated this in his comment: “Eric is a natural athlete, but what makes him so great is his work ethic. Nothing stops him. Eric would be the first to admit that swimming is not his #1 sport, but that didn’t stop him from giving his everything to become a great swimmer. To be a successful athlete you need to be able to accept criticism, work hard on the things you aren’t great at, and have an inward drive to keep getting better. These are all attributes that Eric possesses and I can’t wait to see the all around athlete Eric will become.”

Eric did this all after missing the first couple weeks of practice with a leg injury and dominating the NBL in wrestling. McDonell is an amputee, but does not let that limit him and has proven himself to be one of the top tier athletes at Cardinal Newman. McDonell is poised to have a big year in wrestling come next Winter and will be back with the Newman swim team in a year. The race to watch at NCS next year: Men’s 100 Freestyle Paralympic Class I, Eric McDonell vs. Tyler McMillan. 

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