She doesn't get in the pool to play a few games and hang with her friends, she gets in the pool to compete.
"We still practice everyday for two hours a day," said McDonnell.
Many kids find a pool intriguing at a very young age but most don't take it to a competitive level. However, after her parents nixed the idea of her focusing her talent on dance due to scheduling conflicts, she turned to swimming.
"My mom couldn't get me to practice for dance and we were looking into all these different sports and activities to do," said McDonnell. "And I swam all the time anyway and we're like "what about the swim team?" and the time worked perfectly."
Spending her days in the pool has many pros and cons but McDonnell said the good definitely outweigh the bad.
"Even though being a swimmer means you're hair is always wet and you always smell like chlorine," said McDonnell. "The benefits of being able to be with your friends all the time and being able to do the sport I really, really like makes up for it."
Her many hours in the pool took McDonnell to state this year as a sophomore and although she didn't place, just qualifying and getting to compete on another level was quite the adventure.
"It was still worth it because going to the facility it was at, it was so much bigger than this one and it's just a totally different experience and that's what you work for," said McDonnell.
Now that the season is over, McDonnell can focus more on her studies, something that comes almost as easy to her as swimming.
"I'm a good student, I guess," said McDonnell. "I'm in national honors society."
McDonnell makes a splash both at school and in the pool.