Paige McCormick may want to isolate herself and, perhaps, spray some disinfectant everywhere she goes in late February.

The Hudson junior swimmer always seems to catch a nasty bug a week after Valentine’s Day.

The situation only gets worse since the end of February includes a very important event the hard-luck teenager wouldn’t miss for the world.

That would be the Division I state meet.

"I had a stomach virus three days before (the state competition)," McCormick said. "I think it affected me more mentally than it did physically because I was actually sick my freshman year as well. I was thinking, ‘Not again.’"

Whether McCormick will need over-the-counter medications, hot soup or a cool wash clothwhen the 2019 state meet takes place is a situation that will be addressed later.

Regardless of those circumstances, McCormick is seeking some gold medals this winter.

She was pretty close despite her body letting her down the previous two seasons.

McCormick placed third in the 500-yard freestyle for the second consecutive year at the 2018 state competition. She also finished fourth in the 200 individual medley after placing seventh the previous year.

To top it all off, McCormick was a member of the second-place 200 medley and fifth-place 200 freestyle relay teams.

Not bad for someone who may have been better off sleeping in her bedroom.

"Just going out and racing is my goal," McCormick said. "I’m more concerned with the time than the place. Who doesn’t want to win gold, though?"

McCormick has proven to be an elite thoroughbred when it comes to racing.

Nonetheless, even she can do some fine-tuning to become an unstoppable force in the pool.

"Paige hasn’t swum as well at the state meet as she wanted to," her coach Matt Davis said. "We’ve talked about what we can do to change that and what we can do to get better.

"She has done a good job of evaluating the process and evaluating what needs to change to put herself in a better position to compete that weekend."

McCormick’s arms and legs haven’t been her weak links. Her technique, strength and speed also are tip top.

If there is a slight chink in McCormick’s near unbreakable armor, it’s her mind.

"When I don’t achieve my goal, I have a tendency to get really upset," McCormick said. "That brings everyone else down."

Davis wants to make sure everything goes smoothly for his ultra-talented junior. Reminding her of the positives is a crucial first step.

"Paige was on a pretty good trajectory," Davis said. "Every year, she got better. It would be easy to think there are no bumps in the road, but that doesn’t happen in sports and in the sport of swimming, that definitely doesn’t happen.

"For her to hit a few of those bumps her freshman and sophomore years kind of helped us evaluate and understand. What can our mindset be? What should we think about? Are we putting too much pressure on this? Are we too focused on a time and not our stroke development?

"She has definitely grown from some of those early hurdles."

McCormick has made significant strides to enjoy her races and not let her emotions get the best of her. She is swimming for a team of all-stars who support her in good times and bad.

So why sweat the small stuff?

"I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself," McCormick said. "I just want to go out there and have fun. I’ve realized growing up that when I put too much pressure on myself, I let that get to my head.

"Last year, I definitely did a lot of maturing throughout the season, mentally and physically. I had a smile on my face."

If McCormick is experiencing some difficult times, she has a go-to guy to help ease the pain. 

"If something is wrong, Matt knows exactly what’s up," McCormick said. "He can usually tell by my body language that something is up. If I have a problem academically, he’ll come and talk to me. He has kind of been like my second dad."

Winning a gold medal at the state meet would certainly be a lofty accomplishment. However, McCormick hasn’t just raced the best swimmers in the Buckeye State. She also has shared the pool with some of the top swimmers in the nation.

"Any time we get to those big meets she swam for us with HEAT, they are opportunities she can learn from," Davis said. "The Junior Nationals are way bigger than the state meet. What can we draw from that experience?

"Now we’re going up against the best kids in Ohio. We just swam against the best kids in the entire country. Those experiences are invaluable to our kids."

McCormick recently met a new friend, who knows a thing or two about swimming against the elite.

Caitlin Weigel, a former state qualifier who is now a senior rugby player at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has given McCormick some valuable tips on how to excel under intense pressure.

Those tips will stay with McCormick for the rest of her life. She plans to offer that same advice to the younger swimmers who have dreams of being the next Paige McCormick.

"Caitlin has always been someone who has kind of taken me under her wing even though I never trained with her during high school," McCormick said. "She has been a big mentor for me. She is so enthusiastic about it.

"She believed in the process. That’s what we’ve been telling the freshmen: believing and trusting in the process."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.