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'A long road' back for McGoey

After double shoulder surgery, Matthew McGoey returns to swimming competition.

WINFIELD -- More than 300 swimmers from eight county teams descended upon South Carroll Swim Club on Wednesday for their annual pool party, the Carroll County Invitational.

Matthew McGoey was one of them, and the 17-year-old South Carroll Swim Team veteran showcased his talent by winning five events and setting a meet record. But McGoey was just happy to be back in the pool among his peers.

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McGoey was practicing for a championship meet about a year-and-a-half ago and noticed some discomfort when he raised his right arm over his head during a stroke. His arm swelled after practice, and McGoey said he figured it was some sort of infection.

He was wrong — McGoey had thoracic outlet syndrome, a compressed nerve between the base of the neck and the armpit that blocks blood flow to the chest and upper extremities.

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After a few weeks, McGoey and his family learned of a blood clot. No more swimming for a while.

"I've had to get several surgeries," said McGoey, who now has two fewer ribs than he was born with, and the scars under his arms to prove it. "It has been a long road."

McGoey, who said he had his most recent surgery about three months ago, finished first in the 15-and-over 100-meter individual medley, the 100 freestyle, the 50 backstroke, 50 butterfly, and 50 breaststroke.

McGoey won the backstroke in 28.72 seconds, breaking the old mark of 29.03 set in 2011 by Alex Haufler.

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"I always thought that I would come back whenever I was done with physical therapy," he said. "And that's what I did. I'm still not completely recovered. I'm still having problems with long distances."

The sight of her son swimming, and having fun, put a big smile on Laura Remaly-McGoey's face.

She spent most of the evening as the swim meet director, but Remaly-McGoey had her cell phone out and recording her son's races.

"It has been heartbreaking, because he loves swimming and works really, really hard," Remaly-McGoey said. "When someone dedicates themselves 100 percent to a sport, gets up at 5 a.m. to go to practice ... as parents, it has been very scary. It has been a tough couple of years for us as well.

"It's fantastic to see him with a smile on his face after he completes a race. It's really great to see."

One of McGoey's SC teammates, Mia Mesceda, went 5 for 5 as well at the county meet.

Mesceda dominated the 11-12 girls division and set meet records — the 100 IM (1:11.12), the 50 free (28.78), the 50 back (34.33), and the 50 breast (35.87).

Two of those county marks were hers a year ago.

South Carroll's Lauren Helminiak won the girls IM, free, back, and breast, in the 9-10 group. And the sibling duo of Allison (13-14) and Christopher Tomsuden (11-12) each won four races – the IM, free, back, and fly.

But the county invitational is more about spending time with friends than worrying about fast lap times and having to qualify for championship meets.

Mesceda and her fellow top competitors will be doing that next week at the Straehle Invitational at Four Seasons in Hampstead, and Divisionals after that.

"This is just one of those meets where it's not really an official meet ... it's just kind of another chance to get out there and swim," said Mia, 12. "You get to see a lot of people from other teams that you don't see because they're not in your division.

"I've met so many people tonight that I've never even talked to before. It's really cool."

410-857-7894

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