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Just 15, she’s long, strong, on the way

By Lenny Megliola
Globe Correspondent / July 22, 2012
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Dorian McMenemy leaves Monday for the London Olympics. She is a swimmer, representing the Dominican Republic. She’s the only female on the team.

And she's 15 years old.

“Every day the Olympics get closer, the more excited I get. A little more nervous too,’’ said McMenemy, at rising sophomore at Algonquin Regional High who lives in Northborough. McMenemy qualified for the Olympics at the World Championships in China last summer.

The Dominican Republic is allowed to send only three swimmers because it is such a small country. The other two swimmers are boys.

“I knew I had a good chance to be picked,’’ said McMenemy, who was recently named the Dominican Republic’s female athlete of the year.

Her mother, Luisa, is from Santo Domingo, and McMenemy has a dual citizenship with the United States. Her event is the 100-meter butterfly, in which she has recorded a personal-best time of 1:03:35. She has no illusions about a medal.

McMenemy began swimming competitively at age 7 for the Mighty Ducks, which practiced at Wayland High. She took to it instantly. “It’s an independent sport, it’s all up to you,’’ she said. “I like that feeling.’’

She trains at the Westboro Tennis & Swim Club twice a day, five hours total. “I don’t get tired,” said the 6-foot-1 McMenemy. “I just love it.’’

Her father, Ron, is 6 feet 4. Her mother is 5-11.

McMenemy’s height is striking for her age and she uses her length to her advantage in the pool.

“My arms really reach forward, and my long legs give me a bigger kick,” she said.

“She's extremely strong,’’ said her coach, Nicole Carter, who swam at Milford High, is the head coach at Ashland High, and is an assistant at her alma mater, Wheaton College. “She's just coming into her body. Her parents say Dorian’s still growing.’’

Carter, along with McMenemy’s parents, will accompany the swimmer to England.

“We’re going to have fun, for the experience, and to swim as fast as she can,” added the coach.

“I'll be happy with any time under 1:03.35,’’ said McMenemy.

Traveling to foreign ports is not new for McMenemy.

“She’s been a busy world traveler,’’ said Carter.

Born in the United States, she has represented the Dominican Republic at meets in Puerto Rico, Aruba, and much of the Caribbean and Central America. “I love seeing different cultures, different life styles,” she said.

Carter has her sights on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when McMenemy will be 19. “We're realistic about London,’’ said Carter. “I just want her to enjoy it. She’s happy where she’s at. But she’s also a perfectionist.”

The reality is, Carter pointed out, “the MetroWest area doesn’t produce a lot of Olympians, and Dorian trains in Westborough,’’ hardly a swimming mecca. She led the Central/Metro team to its first swimming title at the Bay State Games last weekend.

Her parents have “been driving me to practices and meets” for nine years, she said. “I’m glad they’re coming (to the Olympics). I’m so young. I’d be scared.’’

Lenny Megliola can be reached at lennymegs@aol.com.

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