Maureen Cardwell, a talented, thrill-seeking swimmer from Redmond High School, hopes to strike more gold this fall.
Cardwell, who is battling shoulder injuries, hopes to overcome her pain and pin down another pair of Class 4A state gold medals.
“I definitely want to work on defending my state titles,” said Cardwell, the defending champion in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly. “I know it’s not going to be easy. I just have to focus on what I can do and see what happens.”
Cardwell shocked the state field last November, winning the 50 free in a personal-best time of 24.20 seconds. She followed that up with a victory in the 100 butterfly in a time of 57.17, another personal best.
Cardwell is looking to become the first back-to-back champion at Redmond since Steph Wang won two straight golds in the 100 free in 1996 and 1997.
But it will be doubly tough for Cardwell to repeat this year. Already wearing a target on her back, Cardwell must endure pain in both of her shoulders as she looks to win again on center stage.
Cardwell, who swims for the Bellevue Club in the offseason, began experiencing pain in her shoulders in March and then had to stop her training in May because the pain was too much.
“I was kicking, but that was it,” said Cardwell. “I haven’t used my arms since May.”
Doctors told Cardwell she was suffering from impingement of the shoulders, which results from pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade (scapula) as the arm is lifted. That pressure causes pain and limits movement, which is vital to strong swimming, Cardwell said.
But Cardwell is back in the pool, kicking – and swinging her arms – swimming for the first time since May. Cardwell said the shoulders feel a lot better, something she attributes to her physical therapy and yoga that she does.
“Right now, I’m feeling real positive about it,” she said of her shoulders. “I haven’t had to stop in practice. I’ve been making some ground in my physical therapy. I’m just hoping my shoulders will be better and I can train hard.
“I’m ready to train hard and get ready for the state meet.”
Despite the offseason setback, Redmond coach Julie Barashkoff said she is confident Cardwell will shine this season.
“She is mentally tough,” Barashkoff said. “She is real focused. I would never underestimate her.”
And besides, it’s not how you start, but how you finish Barashkoff said.
“We just have to build up, build up and wait until district and state to cut loose.”
Weather it’s swimming, wind surfing, snowboarding or hockey, Cardwell has always been one to “cut loose.”
Cardwell has been wind surfing since she was seven. She loves to go snowboarding during the winter. She plays on Lake Washington hockey team during the spring season. And recently, she picked up kiteboarding, which is a lot like wind surfing, but uses a controllable kite rather than a sail.
“I like to keep thing interesting,” Cardwell said.
So what’s next for the fearless Cardwell?
“I would love to sky diving,” she said.
But before she falls through the sky, she wants to part the waters as state champion once again.
“I got a ways to go, but it’s definitely possible,” Cardwell said of wining more state gold medals.
Cardwell said she hopes to swim at the next level in college, preferably at a sun-soaked campus.
University of Miami, University of San Diego and Loyola Marymount are among the schools on her college wish list.
“I want to go someplace warm,” she said. “Swimming in warm weather is much more fun.”
And fun is the name of the game for this Redmond High thrill seeker.