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The Louisville Cardinals have snuck a swimmer out of the backyard of another top 10 program, the Michigan Wolverines, with the signing of high school senior Lucy Mehraban.
Mehraban attends Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School and trains with Club Wolverine, which trains out of the University of Michigan’s Canham Natatorium, among other places. Her mom, Amy, is a research professor at the University of Michigan too.
Lucy Mehraban, though, chose to head to Louisville instead, where she takes a high-ceiling and a unique story to the Cardinals.
Mehraban returned to the pool in August after a two-and-a-half year break from swimming. Primarily a sprint freestyler, when she was a freshman in 2019, she was the state runner-up in the 50 (23.08) and 100-yard (50.86) freestyles at the Michigan Division I High School State Championships (big schools). She also swam a leg on two title-winning relays: the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
All four of those swims earned her NISCA All-America honors, and her time in the 50 free qualified her for Winter Juniors.
Her last official meet was in December of 2019 before stepping away from the pool. She picked up right where she left off in November as a senior, though. On just three months of training, she was the Michigan High School State Champion in the 50 free (23.07) and the state runner-up in the 100 free (49.93). Those swims again qualify her for NISCA All-America honors and Winter Juniors.
She also swam on the state runner-up 200 free relay and state champion 400 free relay.
Earlier in the season, at a conference championship meet, she swam a best time of 23.04 in the 50 yard free.
Best Times in Yards:
50 free – 23.04
100 free – 49.93
200 free – 1:53.03 (2018 – 8th grade)
500 free – 5:06.12 (2019 – 9th grade)
With such a short return to the pool, she doesn’t have a lot of depth in her results yet, but the potential, but at 6 feet tall, the potential is there.
Mehraban says that she didn’t love the sport anymore after her freshman year of high school, and instead ran track and cross country for Pioneer High School.
“I wanted to push myself to try new things and live the ‘normal life’ that many swimmers dream of,” she said in an interview with a local Ann Arbor magazine. “My freshman year I really struggled with the many issues that come with swimming competitively. I struggled with how the chlorine fried my hair, how it dried out my skin, my muscular build, and my overall physical appearance. It was my first year of high school and I felt very self-conscious about how my height (6 feet) and red hair made me stick out of any crowd.”
“Although it seemed as if no one was on my side with my decision to leave the sport, I knew that it was the right decision for me,” she said.
After she dealt with the body image issues, which she says she learned were not dependent on swimming, Pioneer High School coach Stephanie Kerska reached out and asked for a conversation. The result of that conversation was Mehraban rejoining the team, and falling in love with the sport again.
She also explored passions in modeling and photography during her break, and maintained a 3.8 GPA in the classroom – emerging from that time as a more well-rounded person, but no less of an athlete based on early returns.
She joins the Louisville Cardinals at a moment when they have a very young and very talented sprint group. Every swimmer who has raced the 50 free for the Cardinals this season will have at least the option (including 5th years) to return next year. Their #3, #4, and #5 swimmers (Julia Dennis – 22.42, Ella Welch – 22.45, and Karoline Barrett – 22.46) are all freshmen.
There is an adaption period for most swimmers moving into college programs, but for Mehraban, going from not swimming at all to the intensity of a top-10 NCAA program in the span of 12 months could be especially difficult. The program’s depth in her events, though, gives her the opportunity to adjust before there’s too much pressure to contribute – if she needs it.
In part because of that youth, the Louisville class of 2023 is small. In addition to Mehraban, the Cardinals are expected to add two diver, Samm Helmboldt, along with Floridian swimmer Summer Cardwell and Romanian swimmer Bianca Costea next fall.
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