Photo by Theo Tate
Maia Cain is one of six seniors on the Paddlers swimming team. She plans to continue her swimming career next year at Illinois State University.
Records continue to fall for Maia Cain.
In a home meet against Water Works on July 9, the Paddlers swimmer set three team records in her victories in the 100-meter intermediate medley, 100-meter backstroke and the 50-meter butterfly in the age 15-18 girls’ division. Cain is the Pirates’ record-holder in nine events.
“She’s doing very well,” Paddlers coach Celeste Furmanek said.
Now, Cain is setting her sights on ending her Paddlers career on a high note. At 9 a.m. Sunday, July 19, Cain and five other Paddlers swimmers will be competing in their final Southwestern Illinois Swim Association championship meet at Paddlers Pool. Catherine Jakich, triplets Chris, Betsy and Anna Hagnauer and Cole DeYong also are in their final seasons with the Pirates.
“It’s so weird because I’ve grown up here and it’s my life,” Cain said. “It’s all I know. It hasn’t hit me that I’m not going to be doing it next year. It’s so weird because I’ve known them my whole life. They’re basically my family. It’s so crazy.”
The 18-year-old Cain will continue her swimming career at Illinois State University next year. In November, she signed a letter of intent to compete with the Illinois State swimming team, coached by Scott Cameron. Cameron took over duties this summer after Steve Paska retired.
“My main goal is to make NCAA Championships,” Cain said. “I’m really far off right now. But I feel like if I work really hard the next four years, I hopefully can get that.”
Cain said she’s thrilled that she will continue her swimming career in college. She will receive a partial scholarship.
“It means so much to me because I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Cain said.
Cain joined the Paddlers program when she was 7. She took swimming lessons at Paddlers Pool for several years before joining the team.
“I knew back when she was 7 or 8 that she was going to be good because she was so smooth and she caught on so quick,” Furmanek said. “To go that long and get a college scholarship is like a dream come true for her. She deserves it. She has put in the time and work in. So, good for her.”
In 2009, Cain was the Pirates’ top performer in the 11-12 girls’ division and got 22 first-place finishes, including two in the SWISA championship meet at Paddlers Pool. She also earned her first SWISA High Point Award.
In 2011, Cain broke a team record in the 50-yard butterfly and the 100-yard intermediate medley in the 13-14 girls’ division. Two years later, she set a team record in the 200-yard freestyle. In 2014, she shattered team marks in the 100-meter and 100-yard backstroke, the 50-meter and 100-yard butterfly and the 100-meter freestyle in the 15-18 girls’ division.
Against Water Works, Cain broke her own mark in the 100-meter backstroke and the 50-meter butterfly. She swam a time of 1 minute, 9.69 seconds in the backstroke and 30.25 seconds in the butterfly. Cain finished with a 1:10.28 in the IM, which surpassed the old record of 1:13.10 set by Paige Eavenson in 2013.
Cain credits the Edwardsville Breakers swimming club for her successful career at Paddlers. She has been swimming with the Breakers since she was 8.
“It helped so much,” Cain said. “If I didn’t do that, I don’t know where I would be right now. They pushed me and the people there and the coaches taught me so much.”
After three dual meets this season, Cain has a total of 12 first-place finishes, including five in the Paddlers’ home opener July 6 against Splash City. She also got a first-place finish in the 250-yard freestyle crescendo relay at the SWISA Relays June 29 at Sunset Hills Pool in Edwardsville.
Furmanek has high hopes for Cain at Illinois State.
“She will do very well in college because she works hard and she’s not afraid to put in the time and the distance and the guts to work hard every day,” the Paddlers coach said. “She can just do it. She can block everything out and focus on what she has to do. That’s going to keep her swimming very well.”
Cain is one of four Paddlers swimmers who broke at least one team record this year. The others are Emily Webb, Ryan Mihu and Noah Cain, Maia’s brother.
Against Splash City, Webb swam a team record time of 1:14.59 in her first-place finish in the 100-meter backstroke in the 13-14 girls’ division, breaking the old record of 1:15.88 set by Maia Cain in 2011.
“I knew it was coming,” Furmanek said. “It was just a matter of time on when she was going to break it. She works very hard. She leads the lane off in practice and is super-hard in every lap every day. So she’s a very hard swimmer in practice.”
Webb is also the team’s record holder in the 200-yard freestyle. She swam a 2:18.54 in her first-place finish June 11 against Sunset Hills.
Mihu swam a team-record time of 3:09.85 in his second-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle in the 13-14 boys’ division against Water Works. Noah Cain broke a team record in his first-place finish in the 100-yard intermediate medley 13-14 boys’ division against Sunset Hills, swimming a time of 1:09.20.