CARMEL, Ind. (BVM) — Not many high school athletes get to be part of a program that’s a dynasty. Especially not a program that has won 34 state championships in a row. But that’s what the Carmel High School girls swimming program has done, and over the last few years, senior Madelyn Christman has been a big part of the Greyhounds’ success.
Impressively, Christman began swimming when she was just 2 years old. With her dad a collegiate swimmer, and her mom a former volleyball player, Christman was poised to become a star in the pool thanks to her good genes.
Christman’s younger sister, Meghan, has also become a star swimmer, and currently competes with Madelyn at Carmel — something that has been a joy for both of them.
“It’s so fun having her with me and I think I took that for granted a lot as a kid,” Madelyn explained. “People would always tell me how cool it was to swim with my sister and I never really appreciated it. My sister is definitely better than I was at her age. She works really hard every day, I’m so proud of her. I think she will go really far in the sport.”
Throughout her youth in the pool, Madelyn began making friends while growing a love for both the individual and team aspects of swimming. The 17-year-old originally grew up in Fishers, Ind., competing with the Fishers Area Swimming Tigers club. There she grew into her main events while swimming — the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, and 200 individual medley (IM).
By high school, Madelyn would switch over to Carmel Swim Club. While it was a good opportunity, the swimmer felt pressure to perform at first.
“I remember walking in my first day and being petrified because it was all people I looked up to and put on a pedestal,” Madelyn said. “The first few weeks, I did not talk to anyone. I just stayed in my own lane because I was intimidated. But I started talking to others and realized they’re people too and just like me. Now, I’ve gotten to meet some of my best friends and am so grateful for the team.”
Enjoying the environment with her new club so much, Madelyn decided she wanted to attend Carmel High School as well, beginning her high school swimming career with the Greyhounds as a sophomore.
Going into her time at Carmel, Madelyn was excited but nervous, and anyone who follows high school swimming in the state could probably understand why. The Greyhounds’ girls swimming program has won an incredible 34 consecutive state championships. The streak began all the way back in 1986, with the last 14 titles overseen by current head coach, Chris Plumb.
“Coming into a nationally-ranked program was definitely intimidating at first,” Madelyn said. “You see all these people that you used to look up to at meets, and then all of the sudden you are swimming next to them at practice.”
However, Madelyn quickly became comfortable with the new program, in large part thanks to the welcoming attitude of the coaching staff, led by Plumb.
“People around the swimming world know who Chris Plumb is, so that again was a little bit intimidating,” Madelyn added. “But he made sure from the minute that I came in to know that I was part of the team and someone that they valued. He always does a great job of making sure everyone is on the same page and values the right things.”
After not competing in sanctioned high school swimming as a freshman, Madelyn finally got her first taste of it as a sophomore at Carmel. She excelled right away, winning the 200 IM at sectionals, and placing fourth in the same event at state. She also helped the Greyhounds win the team medley relay at state, and of course, was part of the team’s 33rd consecutive state title.
“It was definitely a different atmosphere and intensity level,” Madelyn said about her first year at Carmel. “At state, there was a lot of good competition that year and I was just happy to be where I was.”
Madelyn continued to develop last winter during her junior season, becoming more and more comfortable with her team. She would defend her 200 IM title at sectionals, and would also compete in the 100 freestyle, which she lost to her sister, Meghan.
At state, Madelyn again finished fourth in the 200 IM, but competed in team relays to help the Greyhounds bring home another state championship.
— Jim Inskeep (@carmelathletics) February 15, 2020
Last season’s title may have even been a little sweeter for Madelyn, since she was able to share it with her sister.
This season, Madelyn will conclude her career at Carmel, with an eye on taking over a leadership role for the team. Of course, the main goal will be to extend the team-title streak to 35, and Madelyn hopes to challenge for an individual state championship as well.
“Going into this season, I’m definitely working on trying to become a good leader as all the people who came before me did,” the 17-year-old said. “Obviously, this season looks a lot different, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t change what we’re doing and what our goals are. We are obviously going for No. 35, and individually, hopefully I can win a state title.”
Outside of high school swimming, Madelyn has gained beneficial experience against top competition in some of the national tournaments she has competed in. In her freshman year, the swimmer competed in her first junior national meet. She continued to do so throughout her sophomore and junior years, gaining more and more confidence at each meet.
“It was just a good experience to race against people who were nationally ranked and that you’ve looked up to for so long,” Madelyn said. “It gave me confidence going to meets later on, knowing that I can swim with these people.”
That confidence has taken Madelyn to new heights, as several months ago, she qualified to compete in the Olympic trials in the 200 backstroke. Of course, the pandemic delayed the trials until next summer, but Madelyn is still thrilled to have a chance to compete.
“Olympic trials really weren’t on my radar at the time,” Madelyn said. “The day that I qualified, I remember touching the wall and everyone started freaking out and hugging me and I wasn’t sure why. It was just a really cool moment and it was so cool to have my teammates and Chris come over and tell me that I had done it.
“Of course, it was a little frustrating to have the trials meet moved, but it was definitely the right call. I think it will just be really cool to get to go to it and it’s something that not many swimmers get to experience.”
The Olympic trials will be an exciting lead-in to Madelyn’s upcoming collegiate career. The 17-year-old will head north to swim at Notre Dame, who began showing interest in her the summer before her junior year. Despite strongly considering North Carolina State and Louisville, Madelyn was sold on the Fighting Irish in large part due to what they offered beyond the swimming program.
“What it came down to for Notre Dame was the academics,” Madelyn said. “I knew their academics could get me anywhere in life, not just swimming wise. Being able to have stuff set up after college and have connections in the real world is something I really valued. It’s also nice to be a little bit closer to home and once I met the team, I just felt like I connected with them and can see myself making a lot of friends there.”
Madelyn will look to study political science or business marketing at Notre Dame. While in the pool for the Fighting Irish, she hopes to make the ACC and NCAA championships, and continue her success in national meets.
Beyond college, Madelyn is not sure where her swimming career might take her. But with the love she has grown for the sport, she will look to stick with it in some capacity for quite a while.
No matter where her bright future in the pool takes her, Madelyn notes that it has been an honor to swim for the elite Carmel Greyhounds, and she hopes to cement her legacy in her final season there this winter.
“What I hope I leave by the time I’m gone is showing how to have fun while working hard,” Madelyn concluded. “I also want to show that underclassmen shouldn’t be afraid to be leaders. Everyone has a voice and everyone has a role on the team.
“Swimming at Carmel has seriously changed my life. I met my best friends, I get to compete with one of the best teams in the nation and it’s just something really special that I get to experience every day.”