Pushing Each Other: Marauders’ Gray, Garey share Daily Reporter Boys Swimmer of the Year honors


Mt. Vernon’s Brady Gray, left, and Matthew Garey have been named the 2021-22 Daily Reporter Boys Swimming Athletes of the Year. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

FORTVILLE — Matthew Garey and Brady Gray make each other better.

Subsequently, the Mt. Vernon Marauders boys swimming team is better.

The two junior standouts are the Daily Reporter Co-Boys Swimming and Diving Athletes of the Year. Each won multiple individual titles to help lead Mt. Vernon to Hoosier Heritage Conference and New Palestine Sectional team championships.

At the sectional, each won two individual events and were part of two victorious relay teams, which qualified them for the state meet in four races. They both were part of multiple wins at the conference meet, combining for the podium’s highest spot in individual and relay events.

“I don’t think you could say one out-performed the other because they fed off each other,” Mt. Vernon head coach Brad Grieshop said. “I truly believe their overall success comes from their drive of personally wanting to be better and they have a friendly understanding competition. They push each other day-in and day-out.”

Garey and Gray compete at everything.

Though they don’t swim the same individual events in meets, they go head-to-head at practice.

They swim together on relays, but Garey handled the 200-yard individual medley and either the 100 breaststroke (HHC) or 500 freestyle (sectional) in the big meets. Gray is a sprinter, taking home his share of first-place medals in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.

“We’re super competitive against each other, but we’re cracking jokes about who is winning events and how we stack up against each other. It’s always super friendly,” Garey said. “We swim opposite events (in meets). There’s no tension there, we’re just trying to get better at the sport we love doing.

“If I was on another team, I highly doubt I’d be as good as I am right now. He is perfect competition for me and it’s fun every day.”

They’ve been pushing each other for quite some time.

Garey elaborated that he got better, starting in middle school, because he wanted to catch up to the faster Gray.

“When we started, we were on totally different levels,” Garey said. “I always wanted to be as good as him. It took years of practice. When we started he was always on the faster intervals, and way ahead of me, but I kept working. I started to finally compete with him in practice and kept it going from there. At the start, there was a pretty big difference between me and him but over the years, and years and years of being together, we’re now neck-and-neck.”

“In middle school, I was always way faster than Matthew, but after my freshman year he caught up to me a lot,” Gray said. “Now, it’s like crazy competition every single day. If he is not at practice, I am giving him a hard time. If he beats me in one part of a set that we’re doing against each other, I’m not going to hear the end of it.”

They really love to compete against each other. The coach sees it and he knows the entire team sees it, too.

It makes the whole program better, Grieshop said.

“We would not be where we’re at without those two,” the coach said. “They push everyone and everyone looks up to them. In my opinion those two are the leaders of the team and they’ve proven why.”

They’re each other’s biggest cheerleader, too.

When Garey won the 500 freestyle at the sectional, edging Shelbyville’s Tyler Harker by less than one second, Gray was there as his lap-counter, helping motivate him all the way.

“I can’t say there was never a doubt in my mind, but I knew if (Matthew) was staying with him Matthew was going to win. Tyler Harker is the name of the kid from Shelbyville (that he was racing in the 500). I’ve been Tyler Harker a lot. I’ve been barely keeping up with Matthew and then he sprints right by you at the end. There’s nothing you can do about it because he has way better endurance.”

The two have embraced their leadership roles, too.

They had a big act to follow. The previous year’s senior class had helped snap a 10-year gap in conference wins and 16-year space between sectional championships. The class included all-state swimmer Aiden Tierney.

Garey and Gray led the way to get the Marauders back-to-back crowns.

“It’s a lot different,” Gray said, on being one of the team leaders. “When you have 6 a.m. practices, there has to be one person that gets in the water first. There has to be one person to tell people to quit messing around and make sure people are where they are supposed to be.

“When you’re a little sophomore and you have five (seniors) to do that for you, it’s a lot easier. You have to be the example all the time now. Everyone is watching. It’s different. I like it. I feel like what I do matters more, as compared to last year. Last year, people looked up to Aiden Tierney, this year it was more me and Matthew.”

Garey added he hopes that continues with the younger guys, as he, Gray and the rest of their class finish out their high school careers next season.

“I think Brady and I show people how to be competitive. We both really want to win and that rubs off on everyone,” Garey said.

“We want to continue developing and motivating the younger swimmers. After our senior year, there’s going to be a lot of key pieces graduate. Brady and I try to lead the team as best we can, instill a good work ethic, and leadership qualities within everyone else so the younger kids can keep on motivating the new kids when we are gone.”