In the minutes following the conclusion of the Class 6A girls swimming championships Saturday at Topeka, Lawrence High coach Kent McDonald received what he considered to be quite a surprise.
As dozens of swimmers and fans celebrated the end of the season, their voices bouncing off the walls and ceiling at Capitol Federal Natatorium, a hardly audible voice announced over the public-address system that McDonald had been selected as the Kansas Swimming Coaches Association’s 6A girls coach of the year.
“Most people couldn’t hear it,” McDonald said, “but I happened to be away from the crowd, and I could hear it.”
The humble Lions coach said he figured one of the other nominees would win the award, but before he and his team left the natatorium, Kent’s wife, Free State coach Annette McDonald, presented him with the award.
“I don’t know why people voted for me,” the LHS coach said, “except for that we had a number of girls who were seeded really high and swimming toward the front who weren’t really well known club swimmers.”
Lawrence sophomore Gretchen Frick won a state title in the 200 IM, junior Heather Cistola finished top-three in two individual races, and both of them teamed with Miranda Rohn and Annie Odrowski to take third in the 200 IM.
“I’m flattered I got it, of course,” McDonald said of the award, “but it was really just what the girls did and how well they swam that brought attention to me.”
The state meet, he added, served as a proper ending to a successful Lions season.
“Some years, you’re kind of worn out, and you’re ready for it to end,” he said. “But this year, I was really excited and kind of sad that it had to go and end already when we were kind of getting where we wanted to be.”