Colin Monaghan has made plenty of individual accomplishments in the swimming pool, and he has lofty goals for his future.
But the Gainesville High senior’s aims for his final season with the Red Elephants have centered on the team being able to make the biggest splash possible. So when the Gainesville boys finished third in the Hall County championship Friday, it was only natural that Monaghan picked up county titles in a pair of races that aren’t his specialties.
A state champion in the 100 breaststroke in 2014, the University of Georgia signee earned victories in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
“We just tried to get as many points as we could,” Monaghan said. “We tried to make it more of a team effort.”
That strategy paid off as the third-place team effort was three spots higher than the Red Elephants boys placed in 2014. It also affirmed to coach John Price how special his senior leader is in the pool.
“That’s sort of the beauty of Colin’s ability is he’s pretty versatile,” Price said. “While he likes to swim breaststroke and he likes to swim IM, he’s really fast at a lot of things. It was good to see.”
Monaghan is enjoying how much Gainesville’s guys are working together and cheering for each other this season. One such moment came when his younger brother, freshman Brian Monaghan, secured a win in the 100 breaststroke in one of the closest races of the Hall County championship.
“When he has everyone behind him, he tends to go faster and rise up to the challenge,” Colin Monaghan said. “We’re all really proud of him.”
The Gainesville senior has been instrumental in helping build up the Red Elephants’ current team, according to Price. The coach said Monaghan has recruited swimmers, nurtured and motivated them. Even in the midst of his own massive success, Monaghan always has time to celebrate his teammates’ triumphs.
“He’s very interested in the sport and sharing it with people who are maybe uninitiated,” Price said. “He gets very excited, and that’s contagious for a lot of peers.”
A perfect example is on display with Gainesville’s relays. The Red Elephants’ 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle groups have all qualified for state. Monaghan has anchored most of those relays and strategized lineups to maximize Gainesville’s potential.
One of his ultimate goals for his final high school season is to have one of those relays reach the state finals and take on schools from the Atlanta area.
“It’s always fun to represent Gainesville,” Monaghan said.
Fun is a theme for Monaghan when he’s in the pool. He wants to work hard to reach his goals, but he is all about enjoying that process.
The Red Elephants standout started swimming with Lanier Aquatics when he was 6 years old. Much of the effort that has landed him where he is today was put in with the club at Frances Meadows Aquatic Center.
Another catalyst for Monaghan, who said he became more serious about the sport at the age of 10, was coming from a “family of swimmers.” He is the third-youngest of seven children — five boys and two girls — six of whom are swimmers. That opportunity to be around older swimmers from an early age played a role.
“It really helped me out in the early stages of my swimming career,” Monaghan said.
He always liked comparing his times to one of his brothers, who was two years older than him, and being ahead of that brother’s times from the same age.
Monaghan will be back in his usual specialties — the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM — and some relays at the state meet, which is Feb. 5-7 at Georgia Tech. He is hoping for a state record in the breaststroke event in what could be a fierce race with North Hall senior and Tennessee commitment Ty Powers and a strong swimmer from Savannah. Monaghan said all three have a chance to break the current state mark.
Price said Monaghan’s work outside of the high school team is what really sets him apart, regularly competing in USA Swimming events.
The future Georgia Bulldog has hit six national cut qualifying times.
“He swims just about every weekend somewhere,” Price said.
Monaghan is looking forward to jumping into college swimming in Athens.
“I really think I’m ready for it,” Monaghan said. “And I can’t wait to start training with them in the fall.”
For now, though, he has some state championships to chase.