WHEELING - Doing something every year for 14 straight leads to a solid routine.
That's why Meghan Ebbert deserves a bit of a pass if she looks or appears a little of sorts.
The Wheeling Jesuit University senior and St. John Central graduate has been a competitive swimmer for that time period.
As the Lady Cardinals' season came to a close last weekend with a conference championship, Ebbert is trying to figure out what to do with herself.
"It's really tough to believe that it's over," Ebbert said. "Swimming is all I've known. There does come a time when you realize that it's over. I am starting to accept that, but I am not totally there yet."
During her prep career, Ebbert qualified to the Division II state meet in the 500 freestyle. With the Lady Irish, Ebbert swam for her father, Mark, and was the only member of the team.
"I wasn't as used to a strict coach or strict schedule when I got to Jesuit," Ebbert said. "It was a definite adjustment. I even questioned whether or not I belonged here."
She signed with the Cardinals and really kind of went into hoping to do well and drop some time. Never did she think she'd put forth the kind of career she did.
"I've really been so successful and I never expected it," Ebbert said. "College swimming is obviously much more intense than high school swimming, so I thought I'd drop some time. I never imagined that I'd do this well or be so successful. I am really pleased with my career here."
On her senior day, Ebbert won three individual races. She carried that momentum into the Appalachian Swimming Conference Championships last weekend in Christiansburg, Va.
"Last weekend was so exciting," Ebbert said. "I actually pictured myself crying and being upset that (my career) was over, but I wasn't because I was so excited with how well we did. Our women's team had a couple of disqualifications early in the meet and the odds were against us, but just clawed our way back and fought for it."
Ebbert sparked the Cardinal women to the title with an individual conference title in the 200 breatstroke. She posted a time of 2:22.18. She also swam on the 400 freestyle relay, which finished third and set a school record.
"I thought I had a good chance to win, and I knew it was my last race, so I wanted to go out with a bang," Ebbert said. "I wanted to (swim) my best time and I just missed the (NCAA) 'B' cut. I was very pleased with how it ended. I slowly worked my way up and it's been great progressing through my career."
Ebbert attributes much of her success to the chemistry of the Cardinals' swimming program, including the men and women.
"Looking around at our conference meet, you can just tell we're the closest team," Ebbert said. "Everyone is at each other's lanes cheering each other on and our senior group is really close. We've supported each other throughout our entire careers."
Ebbert, who has been a regular on the dean's list, is on track to earn her degree in the spring. She just recently received her acceptance letter to graduate school at Duquesne where she'll be seeking a master's degree in communications.
Knowing her passion for swimming still exists, Ebbert is considering looking into a graduate assistant's position.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org