Good Sports: Visalia swimmers Megan Ridenour and Mackenzie Garza's friendship leading to D-I success

For Visalia swimmers Mackenzie Garza and Megan Ridenour, making it to this point took years of hard work.

Club swim coach Jason Ricablanca first saw the two at age 12.

"They were just like them and finding their way and competing," he says.

They found their way to different high schools. Mackenzie - now a senior at Golden West High School. Megan - a senior at Redwood. But the two still pushed each other on the club team.

"Just having her there and seeing her swim, especially because she's so tall - 5'11 - just trying to reach out and get to the wall first is always a race," Megan says.

In swimming, timing is everything. The same could be said for the timing of their setbacks. The races would stop for both their junior years.

Megan considered quitting because of her heavy course load as a nursing student.

Mackenzie was forced out of the water because of an intestinal disorder.

"And so it was really tough because I would just watch everyone else swim and they'd be improving their times and I'd be sitting out and I was like 'Oh that could be me!'" she says.

Medication and a mental change got Mackenzie right for her senior year - and watching her friend overcome the pain - enough for Megan to get back in the pool.

"I saw a lot of strength in that and just knowing that if she could do it and she really wants to do it then I can do it too."

Both will swim at this weekend's state finals after finishing in the top two at Valley. Mackenzie not only won both of her events in the 50 and 100 free, she set D-II section records in both.

"It was rather emotional. I've been working really hard this season and I know I'm capable of pushing myself to my limits. I just didn't expect as much and so when it finally happened I was just really shocked."

After state, the two will move on to swim at the D-I level, with Megan heading to Fresno State and Mackenzie heading to San Jose State.

"I think we'll always have the bond of TNT between us because even in high school we swam in different teams and in college it will just be another level of that. Not really a clash but a friendly competition."

They are teammates and friends who inspired each other to overcome adversities to both reach the wall and win.
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