Sink (shots) or swim Meghann Donovan: The Seton Keough senior is excelling in two sports at once as a member of two swim teams and one basketball team.

February 02, 1996|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It's 4:15 in the morning, and Meghann Donovan's alarm clock just has sounded. The Seton Keough senior's daily routine is under way.

By 5 a.m., Donovan has driven from her Catonsville home to McDonogh. The sun still hasn't risen as Donovan enters the school and heads for the swimming pool, where Scott Ward -- her club swimming coach for the past eight years -- awaits.

There, Donovan will swim until 6:30. After swimming practice, she gets back in her car and drives to Seton Keough, where her "normal" school day begins.

After school, it's off to either a two-hour basketball practice or a basketball game.

Finally, Donovan goes home to eat dinner, do her homework and go to bed. Watching television and talking on the phone -- unless it's for homework purposes -- is not permitted.

At 4:15 the next morning, the routine starts all over.

Donovan is one of the few high school athletes to participate -- and excel -- in two sports in the same season, and is even more of a rarity as a competitor on three teams (one basketball and two swimming) simultaneously.

A four-year starter for Seton Keough's basketball team, Donovan has developed into one of the area's most consistent players. The 5-foot-11 All-Catholic League forward leads the top-ranked Gators in scoring (16.7) and rebounding (8.2) for the second consecutive season.

Donovan also is one of the top swimmers on her high school team -- she won all of her events during the regular season last year -- and on her U.S. Swimming club squad, the Eagles. She qualified for the Junior Nationals last March and was named Maryland's 15-16 Girls Swimmer of the Year.

In addition to swimming year-round and playing basketball, she plays attack for the school's lacrosse team in the spring. And she has a 3.3 grade-point average in her honors curriculum.

"She does everything at full speed and total effort," said Seton Keough basketball coach Jim Stromberg. "She has a real competitive nature and a lot of heart."

Donovan's competitiveness may be attributed to the fact that she is the youngest of eight children.

"We competed all the time because there was so many of us," Donovan said. "If you wanted that last piece of cake, you had to dive for it."

Much like the way she dives for loose balls during basketball practice.

"I don't like to lose at even the littlest things," she said.

Athletically, there isn't much that Donovan hasn't been successful at, whether it's softball, tennis or even water polo.

"She had never played water polo before when I asked her to play in a game for McDonogh's club team," Ward said. "I told her the rules in about five minutes, and then she scored about seven goals in three games and had four or five saves in goal.

"When she was younger, we were playing touch football and she ran a 40-yard fly pattern and caught a pass. She looked like Jerry Rice."

TC Ward, Stromberg and Seton Keough swimming coach Bill Walker all have been understanding and flexible for Donovan.

"No one asked Meghann to come in at 5 a.m. She said she was willing to do all mornings," Ward said. "If she's willing to make that commitment, I'm willing to be there."

Donovan said she doesn't feel as if she has missed out on anything because of her busy schedule.

"I'm gaining more than I'm missing out on," she said. "I have a lot of friends on the teams, and I meet a lot of people through sports."

There are occasional scheduling conflicts, however.

In December, Seton Keough's basketball team had a game against perennial Pennsylvania power Altoona on the same day Donovan was to swim against Olympic gold medalist Anita Nall in the North Baltimore Aquatic Club Christmas Invitational.

Donovan swam in the preliminary round in the morning at Towson State and qualified for the finals that evening, then headed to the College of Notre Dame and scored 16 points to lead the Gators to a basketball victory.

She departed immediately after the game, changing into her swimsuit in the back seat of the car as her mother drove. By the time Donovan arrived at Towson State, warm-ups were over, and she ended up posting a slower time than in the preliminaries.

"She was upset, but she understood that she was running up and down the court while everyone else slept," Ward said.

Donovan's coaches say her potential in each sport has been hindered by her decision not to commit to just one, although she sees a positive side to doing both.

"Swimming is a lot of aerobic work, and that's definitely been an advantage as far as running up and down the court," said Donovan, who rarely takes breathers in basketball. "Also, if I picked one, I might have gotten bored. Maybe I could have been better at one, but I can't look back now."

Looking ahead, Donovan said she'll decide on one sport in college.

"I've probably gotten more letters for swimming because I was more exposed in that until this year," said Donovan, who is now getting basketball offers from Division I schools. "I never wanted to choose, but I know I will have to."

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