FORTVILLE — When Karen Tierney signed up her children for swimming lessons, she couldn’t know the huge favor she was doing Mt. Vernon or the aquatic dynasty she was creating within her family.

All she probably thought she was to make Dixon and Lydia safe and comfortable around water.

But once the siblings jumped into the pool, they became so comfortable that they never wanted to jump back out.

Since then, the Tierneys — now year-round swimmers — have grown into Hancock County’s top competitors, and their names have become synonymous with dominance.

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Lydia, a freshman at Mt. Vernon, is undefeated in the pool this season, broke the school record in 100-yard butterfly and claimed the 100 fly and 200 individual medley crowns at January’s Hoosier Heritage Conference Championship.

Dixon, a junior, is the reigning sectional champion in the 100 fly and 200 IM, owns school records in both events and is a three-time state qualifier.

With the Tierneys leading the way, the Marauders girls have lost just one dual meet this season, and the boys have fallen only twice.

“The thing about (the Tierneys),” first-year Mt. Vernon coach Matt Kruse said, “is they both just like to swim fast, and they’ll do whatever they have to do to swim faster. I could throw a workout at them that’s going to tear them down physically, that’s going to be very painful, and they’ll embrace it because they know it’s going to make them better.”

The pair are now preparing to lead Mt. Vernon into the state tournament.

Lydia embarks on the challenge first, as she and her Marauders teammates compete in Saturday’s Sectional 15 meet at New Palestine.

A perpetual state competitor at the middle school level, she is used to setting lofty goals for herself. This season is no different, except Lydia has added team objectives to her own tremendous expectations.

“I think we have a good chance at winning sectionals,” Lydia said as she took a brief break from training a few days before the meet to discuss her team’s outlook.

“It’s going to take a big effort these last couple of days, but I think we can do it.”

In prep swimming, only sectional champions advance to the IHSAA State Finals. Her coach said Lydia almost certainly will make it to the IUPUI Natatorium for the championship. So while most swimmers across the state are gearing up for their sectional meets, she has circled Feb. 13 and 14 on her calendar — the dates of the girls state tournament. There, she is aiming for a top-20 finish.

That sounds like a high bar for a freshman, but her coach does not see it that way.

“Top 20?” Kruse asked as though mock-offended by the suggestion. “I’m expecting more like top 16. Lydia faced off with some of the best in her age group before coming here, and she’s been right there in the top eight in all of her events.”

Kruse went on to say that while it is far too early in Lydia’s career to be projecting three years in advance, he expects her — a girl who keeps an image of her target 100 fly time on her phone as a constant motivator — to be contending for state championships before her run at Mt. Vernon concludes.

As for Dixon, he too has his sights set on the boys state meet (Feb. 27 and 28). There here he is looking to make amends for his performance last season and show college coaches he can be an elite swimmer.

“I didn’t really do that well last year,” said Dixon, who qualified for the meet as an individual in the 200 IM and the 100 fly but failed to advance past preliminaries. “This year, I want to get in the top eight in both events.”

That should not be a problem his coach related, who also said Dixon already is swimming at a Division I level.

First comes sectionals, however, as Dixon and the Marauders take to New Palestine’s pool Feb. 19 and 21.

Dixon acknowledges his team probably does not possess the depth required to win sectionals as a team, but he fully expects many of his teammates to join him in Indianapolis at the end of the month.

Dixon said, “I think that we should get the 400 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay to state.”

If all goes to plan, Dixon will compete in four events and will have ample opportunity to try and match what Lydia’s feats from two weeks earlier.

Do not think for a second, though, that the highly decorated siblings compare their accomplishments. That is just not their style.

“They are nothing but supportive of one another,” Kruse said. “You can always hear Dixon cheering her on, yelling ‘There you go girl!’ while Lydia is in the pool. They’re always supporting each other.”

Plus, neither will have a lot to brag about for very long, anyway. According to Dixon and Lydia, their 12-year old brother Aiden is going to blow their accomplishments out of the water when he arrives at Mt. Vernon. As a 10-and-under competitor, Aiden won five-of-six state championships and finished second in the last event.

In other words: The Tierney dynasty will reign at Mt. Vernon for many years to come.

Swimming Sectional Schedule

Sectional 15 at New Palestine

Girls: Saturday, 9 a.m. (diving preliminaries), 1 p.m. (swimming and diving finals)

Boys: Feb 19 (preliminaries), Feb. 21 (swimming and diving finals)

Teams: Centerville, Connersville, Eastern Hancock, Greenfield-Central, Hagerstown, Mt. Vernon, New Castle, New Palestine, Richmond, Rushville.

Admission: $6 per session; $9 both sessions.



  • First place sectional winners in each event qualify for the state meet plus;
  • Any contestant who equals or betters the state time standard in their respective event in the consolation finals or championship finals of the sectional qualifies for the state. 
  • The next fastest number of contestants in the state that would bring the total number of state meet entrants to thirty-two (32) in each event. 


  • First through fourth place sectional winners will qualify for the diving regional.
  • First through eighth place regional winners will qualify for the state finals.

Dixon Tierney

Name: Dixon Tierney

Age: 17

Hometown: Greenfield

School: Mt. Vernon

Grade: Junior

Events: 200 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 400 freestlye relay

Favorite event: 100 butterfly

Goal beyond high school: Earn scholarship to swim in college.

What you admire about Lydia: “Lydia is just super mentally strong and when she wants to go fast, she puts her mind to it, and she goes fast.”

Lydia Tierney

Name: Lydia Tierney

Age: 15

Hometown: Greenfield

School: Mt. Vernon

Grade: Freshman

Events: 200 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 400 freestlye relay

Favorite event: 100 butterfly

Goal beyond high school: Earn scholarship to swim in college and compete in Olympic Trials.

What you admire about Dixon: “Sometimes, you see the boys in practice, and they might not be working too hard. And then you look at Dixon, and you see someone who is doing everything he can to get better, especially in practice.”