Athlete of the Year: Campbell puts MB swimming on map

When Lauren Campbell started swimming at Myrtle Beach High four years ago, state championships were virtually unheard of on the Grand Strand.

But she graduated a few weeks ago with a pair of state titles to her credit and leaves the Seahawks with a stronger program than she found it.

“I can’t believe how fast it flew by,” said Campbell, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Year for Girls Swimming. “It doesn’t seem like that long ago I was a freshman, but I had a great experience in juniors and high school.”

Campbell moved to Myrtle Beach as a seventh-grader and attended St. Andrews, which did not field a swim team. Swimming since the age of 8, she joined the Myrtle Beach Riptides and began breaking club records almost immediately.

“I grew up playing other sports – soccer, tennis, dance – but swimming really stood out to me,” she said. “I had fun with it, and I started getting better and fell in love with it. I guess I’m not as coordinated on land as I am in the water, but it still took a lot of time and dedication.”

Campbell transferred to Myrtle Beach as a freshman and immediately starred on the swim team. Still, her goal of earning a state championship had to wait till her junior year, when she finally accomplished her goal – times two.

Campbell captured the gold medal in the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle – her top two events. Although she failed to repeat as a senior – finishing second and third, respectively – she still graduated as Myrtle Beach’s most decorated swimmer in school history.

“The highlight was my junior year,” she recalled. “It was really cool because I didn’t expect to win one (state title) and I won two. I came up a little short my senior year but it was a wonderful experience. Now I’m ready to go to the next level.”

Campbell is attending Georgia Southern on a swim scholarship in the fall, and she hopes to take the pool by storm as a Golden Eagle the same way she did as a Lady Seahawk.

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