The confidence and desire Haddonfield junior Henry McFadden displays – as it pertains to both getting better in the pool and helping his younger Bulldawg teammates – is nothing short of exemplary, according to his coach.
And it’s been that way ever since he first got to Haddonfield Memorial High School three years ago.
“His impact was immediate upon getting to Haddonfield, both in the water and out,” coach Bob Querubin said. “He’s so laid back with respect to supporting the team, the sport of swimming as a whole and Haddonfield in general …
“He exudes such a positive environment around himself when he talks to swimmers, experienced or new.”
Couple that with McFadden’s superb work ethic and sheer talent in the pool, and you’ve got a swimmer destined to make a lasting impression during his high-school career.
“It just looks so natural to him,” Querubin said. “I don’t want to say it looks easy, because he works his (butt) off just like anybody else does and he deserves everything he’s done, but when he approaches his races, he knows the way that he wants to do it and just goes after it.”
This season, McFadden put forth a magical Meet of Champions performance, leaving the NJSIAA Boys Swimming meet at GCIT in Deptford Township with a pair of victories in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle. He finished with times of 1:35.80 and 4:24.32, respectively.
The individual awards for McFadden capped off another stellar season for Haddonfield, in which the boys team secured its fourth consecutive NJSIAA Central Jersey Group C sectional title, as well as its second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group C state title.
For that reason, McFadden is South Jersey Sports Weekly’s 2021-’22 Boys Swimmer of the Year.
Interestingly enough, McFadden’s seed time for the 500-yard freestyle was faster than the meet record, a goal the swimmer set for himself at the beginning of the season.
“I had some really high goals that I set for myself before the season started, which included breaking the state record in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle, both of which didn’t happen,” he acknowledged. “But I believe you always have to set high goals.
“Part of me has always been pretty goal-oriented, but it’s definitely grown even more as I’ve gone through high school,” McFadden added.
He fell just a half-second short of accomplishing his goal to break the Meet of Champions record in the 500-freestyle, despite winning by more than eight seconds ahead of his closest competitor.
The feeling of becoming an individual state champion in two different events, after having already helped defend his team’s state title just a few weeks earlier, was a feeling unlike any other McFadden had experienced before.
“The feeling of knowing that you’re a state champion — both individually and as a part of a team — is an unreal feeling,” McFadden said. “I enjoy the Meet of Champions competition so much; I think it’s the best high-energy meet that I go to, so going in, my plan was to enjoy it as much as possible, especially after not getting to participate in it last year.”
McFadden isn’t one to rest after a job well done. Despite winning the two individual events, he still has his eyes set on breaking the state records for both during his senior season, and wants to repeat as a Meet of Champions champion in them as well.
Topping a season in which you became a two-time individual state champion and member of a team state championship – all while breaking five high-school records – is no small feat. But if one person is up for that challenge, Querubin said, it is McFadden.
“He knows his goals and the times that he’s looking to hit each race … he’s very confident in what he’s able to do and he’s going to work as hard as he can to get there,” the coach added.