Mikayla Carroll wasn’t much more than 2 years old the first time her mother lowered her into pool water in anticipation of the child’s first swim lesson.
“I wasn’t necessarily shooting for the Olympics or anything,” Michelle Carroll remembered, laughing. “I just wanted her to have a good athletic foundation while she was growing up.”
The older of Michelle’s two daughters took part in ice skating, volleyball and gymnastics at various stages of her formative years only to see all three eventually take a back seat to swimming.
Carroll is now a senior at Franklin Community High School, a four-year varsity swimmer about to embark on a suspenseful, yet exciting, couple of weeks. Preliminaries of the Franklin Sectional are Jan. 31, with the annual State Finals taking place Feb. 8-9 at the IUPUI Natatorium.
THE CARROLL FILE
Name: Mikayla Carroll
Family: Parent, Michelle; sister, Mia, 7
Favorite TV show: “Criminal Minds”
Favorite food: Spaghetti
Favorite movie: “Pitch Perfect”
Favorite athlete: Natalie Coughlin
Favorite team: Indiana University men’s basketball
The days ahead serve as Carroll’s final opportunity to take the big stage as an individual performer. She’s made it the past two winters to downtown Indianapolis, but as the second swimmer in Franklin’s 200-yard individual medley relay.
“I’m hoping to be a sectional champion in the 100 breaststroke, which is my best event, and make it to state,” said Carroll, who also takes part in the 200 individual medley and assorted relay events. “Right now I’m ranked in the top eight in the state in the 100 breast, so I would like to stay there.”
Carroll’s best time of 1:08.15 is only slightly faster than the 1:08.21 she swam while placing second at the 2012 sectional. She also placed fourth in the 200 IM (2:15.89) at the same venue and helped the Grizzly Cubs finish second and third in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, respectively.
Earlier this month Carroll demonstrated her tournament-readiness by helping Franklin win the Mid-State Conference team title. She touched the wall first in the 200 IM in 2:18.33 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.42 while also helping the Grizzly Cubs generate all-important points in relays.
“Mikayla’s commitment in practice to changing her stroke (breaststroke) has paid major dividends this season,” first-year Franklin coach Zach DeWitt said. “She’s had multiple lifetime bests, and it should help her do well at state. She’s a smart girl, and she’s continued to improve upon her technique since my arrival at Franklin.”
An honors student who carries a 4.03 grade-point average, Carroll is also a member of her school’s National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. The week after the state meet she’s scheduled to leave for Harvard Model Congress, an invitation-only event geared to immerse high school students from across the nation and abroad in the intricacies of American government.
At this point Carroll is unsure whether she’ll pursue swimming at the collegiate level. She only knows that finishing the final high school swim event of her career promises to close one of the happiest chapters of her young life.
“I really like how close this team is,” said Carroll, who has been swimming competitively since the age of 8. “That’s one of the things I’ll miss the most.”