Malvern Prep swimmer Kevin Cary ‘22 recognized as Main Line Athlete of the Week.

Kevin Cary, no stranger to competitive swimming, has recently been recognized for his incredible achievements as a swimmer.

Ben Franzone, Friar's Life Editor

Cary, only a junior, has been dominating the swim world for the past few years. Recently though, he’s been swimming exceptionally well, even gaining recognition from the entire Main Line area.  He speaks about the successes and struggles that come with the sport of swimming as well as some encouraging insights from his head coach. 

Kevin Cary, arguably the most dominant swimmer of Malvern Prep’s swim team has a new accolade to his name, “Main Line Athlete of the Week.”

Cary was a finalist in multiple individual events and relays at both National Catholics and Easterns, two competitive swim meets drawing some of the best swimmers from around the area. He has been recognized as first team All Inter-Ac and is currently ranked No. 7 by College Swimming in the state of Pennsylvania for the Class of 2022. 

“I’ve been swimming, as long as I can remember,” Cary said. “I think the earliest I started swimming would probably be four [years old], maybe even before that.”

Swimming has been a large part of Cary’s life for quite some time. While he has been swimming for Malvern’s highschool team since freshman year, Cary also swims for club teams, as is the norm for most swimmers. 

“I swim for two separate club teams; I swim for Roslyn Swim Club in the summer. For my winter club team, I swam for Golden Rams Aquatics (GRA),” Cary continued. “But this year, I actually had to change teams because of COVID-19. GRA never started up, so I had to switch to the Upper Main Line Y (UMLY) because I was able to get daily practices there,” he said. 

Head Swimming and Diving Coach, Jay Schiller, has known Cary and his family for a long time, crossing paths many years ago.

“I’ve known Kevin for a long time because I’ve been coaching the Cary family, starting with Chris [Cary],” Schiller said.  “Kevin was a younger swimmer at the time. I was following his progress through Golden Rams Aquatics and then through Roslyn Swim Club.”

“My grandchildren swim at Roslyn [swim club], so I would get to see the Cary family during the summers, and he had quite the summer swimming career … to the point where he was one of the top finishers at Junior Olympics and in the Mid-Atlantic area,” Schiller said. 

Cary’s eldest brother, Chris Cary, graduated from Malvern in 2014 and is now an assistant coach for the swim program. Cary’s other brother, Connor Cary, graduated in 2019 from Malvern and is now a sophomore in college. 

Having known and coached all three of the Cary brothers, Schiller gives some insight into the competitiveness that comes with an athletic family. 

“Well, it’s funny, cause when you have a set of three brothers like Kevin, Connor, and then Chris, there’s some friendly brotherly competition,” Schiller said. “I can always remember Chris saying that Connor was faster than him,  and then Connor saying that Kevin is faster than both of us,” he said.

Swimming for such a long time, Cary has swam in countless events. He’s swam mostly everything from the 50 free to the 1650; there are, however, areas where Kevin especially excelles. 

“My best event that I swim, as of right now, is my 200 freestyle,” Cary said. “The 200 freestyle, it’s not an all out sprint, but you also have to keep going fast and conserve energy. The idea that coming back and racing that last 100 is so thrilling to me, which is why I probably caught on so well and why the 200 free is my best event,” he said.

Unlike many swimmers, Cary doesn’t have a favorite event to swim. His overall mentality and commitment towards the sport though, does give some insight into his reasoning behind this unique perception.

“My favorite event to swim is the next one…,” Cary said. “The next swim I can do, any sort of swim, it doesn’t matter if I swim the 1650 and it would still be my favorite event,” he continued. I love swimming, I think the embodiment of showing all together my vision … any race that I can do, I love and it’s my favorite.” 

Currently, Cary is as dedicated as ever when it comes to swimming. Schiller agrees that Cary is definitely a devoted swimmer, who puts a lot of time and energy into the sport. 

“He is dedicated to the sport of swimming, he does everything, all the little things that you need to do to succeed in the sport of swimming,” Schiller said.

“My normal practice schedule is every day. I usually always have a two hour practice every day, unless it’s only one hour and then I have dry land or something else that day,” Cary said. It’s probably about plus or minus fourteen hours of swimming every week.”

With swimming clearly taking up a large chuck of his time, Cary has had to find ways to balance academics, athletics and family life. 

“That was definitely something I struggled with my freshman year,” Cary said. “I think that my freshman year [I] was definitely struggling, just trying to switch to high school.”

Over time, Cary has gotten better at being able to balance everything he is involved with and has found ways to keep up both academically and athletically.

“I think managing my time is something I’ve probably picked up as I’ve gotten through it. If I had 30 minutes, I’d be like, okay, I can just quickly do this or get this done,” Cary said.

“I think the idea of balancing many different things, not just swimming and academics, but life in general, keeping in touch with everyone, is definitely one dimension where I think I’m proud of myself,” Cary said.

Cary, now seen as one of the fastest swimmers, not only on his team, but in the Mid-Atlantic area expresses that this was not always the case for him. 

“Up until probably seventh grade, I was not very good at swimming,” Cary said. “I was mostly one of the slower people on the teams, kind of just dragging along with everybody, basically holding on for every single practice.”

It wasn’t until Cary started to find his genuine love and dedication for swimming, that his career really started to take off.  

“I started catching my drift around seventh grade,” Cary said. “I started liking [swimming]  better and liking the idea that I can go someplace every day, and have my own sport, almost my own dimension,” he said.

Once Cary really started to grow and improve in his sport, he liked it even more. Little did he know, he hadn’t even came close to what his true potential could be. 

“As I kept building up and kept going to practice every day, it was about eighth and ninth grade when it all started to really change,” Cary continued. “Obviously going into Malvern, I got introduced to so many other people, so many other sources that helped me get a lot better at swimming and that builds up into last year and even this year,” he said. 

“I think going into freshman year, someone I really looked up to was the 2019 senior [swim] class of Malvern: my brother [Connor Cary], Matt Magnus ‘19, Matt Hopkins ‘19, Louie Franzone‘19 ; all of them, really gave me a lot of good stepping stones,” Cary said. 

Cary is close with both of his older brothers. Given that both had been through Malvern before, he looked up to them often for advice, especially during his freshman year. 

“Every day when I would swim with Conor, I would probably learn something every time. He would give me little tips and tricks on be it school, be it swimming, be it life,” Cary continued. “If it’s a little tiny thing that I could tweak, he would pull me aside and be like hey, you can change this and it makes it a whole lot easier,” he said. 

Besides his two older brothers, Cary has a few other inspirational people in his life which he looks up to for guidance and advice. 

“I would say the first person  that really inspired me was my Mom and Dad,” Cary said. “I haven’t ever needed to look further than the dinner table to find my role models.”

Cary’s parents have served both as role models and cheerleaders in his swim journey, thus far. 

As for inspiration from strictly a swimming standpoint, Cary looks to two Olympic regulars for motivation and enjoyment. 

“From a swimming standpoint, I always loved watching both Michael Phelps, obviously, but Ryan Lochte.  I’ve always looked up to a big idea that he and Michael really would battle it out so much,” Cary said. “Both having the pure competitiveness between each other, they almost make themselves better, competing so hard, which is something I aspire to do every day, no matter who and what it is.”

Being in the pool just about every single day, Cary not only understands the physical devotion that goes into being a stellar swimmer, he is also aware of the mental strain from the sport.

“I would say the hardest part of being a swimmer is the mental aspect,” Cary said. “Mentally, swimming is about 70% in my opinion and 30% physical. You have to have the mentality of going out every day and working hard and not just sandbagging  it.”

Like most sports, swimming can be grueling and challenging, but Cary’s relentless commitment to the sport shows just how badly he wants to succeed. 

“You’re gonna have those days where, oh man, I feel so tired, I don’t feel like swimming today, so going out there and having that good mentality every day is probably one of the hardest things,” Cary said.

Coach Schiller recognizes just how devoted Cary is and understands the type of influential leadership he brings to the team. He realizes his incredible work ethic helps the younger members of the team succeed as well. 

“I can always count on Kevin to step up and really push it hard and give it his all,” Schiller continued. “ I think that rubs off on the other guys … just seeing his effort at practice that rubs off on them and helps them to step up,” he said. 

Cary emphasises how difficult, yet important it is to have a good mentality and putting in the grind, even when you are tired and don’t feel like going further.  

“Being able to go out there, and not just look at the next person and be like, oh, he’s not doing so good so I don’t have to either. If you don’t go out there and work hard, the next person that’s looking at you is going to think the same thing,” Cary said. “ If you go out there and do your best, even if you’re tired, even if you don’t feel like doing it, even if you think that you can’t do it, you can,” he said.

“Over the years, [swimming] grew to be fully a part of my life,” Cary said. “It was almost an unnoticeable blessing that I could go practice and not have to worry about anything, to just be able to swim my heart out and do my best everyday.”

Swimming, having been one of the cornerstones of his life, continuing up until this point, Cary has had many incredible experiences and has swam very well at some of the biggest meets in the country. 

“Last year, when I swam at Easterns, it was a very big and joyful moment because Easterns is an impactful meet for the entire nation, not just for Malvern,” Cary continued.  “Being able to do so well, while swimming against some of the top competitors in the entire country was really eye opening to me,” he said.

Having excelled at the sport for such a long time, particularly in the past few months, Cary was given the recognition “Main Line Athlete of the Week” in early 2021. 

“When I first realized I was chosen as Main Line Athlete of the Week, I was actually kind of shell shocked. I was like wow, this is actually a pretty cool thing,” Cary said. “I thought that the idea of almost being a figure is … pretty interesting.”

Currently in his third year at Malvern, Cary, like most Malvern students is beyond grateful for everything the school has given him. From academics to athletics, Cary expresses how much he truly loves this school and the positive impact it has had on his life. 

“Malvern has molded me into a person I didn’t think I could be,” Cary said. “I’ve realized, from all the people that I’ve met, and all the people that I’ve been taught from, that I can be a 100% better person every day.”

“I always say Malvern [is] almost like a second home because I can feel the bond,” he said. “The learning and the seeing and the talking of everyone is one of Malverns truest and purest happinesses.”

While Cary is already setting records and racking up accolades, he is only a junior in high school, with anticipation of many more years of success. Cary makes note of two particular goals that he has set for himself in the future. 

“The first [goal] is I want to be the best sort of person I can be, not even in regards to swimming, but be the best type of person I can grow into and be the best mold possible,” Cary said. “For people to be able to one day actually look up to me, just like I looked up to many other people,” he said. 

“Number two, is to be the best swimmer I can be; being able to work hard every day, especially working harder than the person next to me. Being able to realize that hard work is one of the most important factors in anything that you do in life,” he continued. “If I’m able to work hard in the pool every day and that’s what’s going to make me better, then I’m gonna do exactly that.”