One summer after he competed in the Junior Pan Pacific Championships of swimming in Honolulu, Haddonfield Memorial High School graduate Henry McFadden will compete Friday, July 28 alongside Olympians for Team USA in the preliminaries of the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
McFadden qualified for the U.S. World Championship team in June at the National Championships in Indianapolis, and shortly thereafter traveled to Singapore to train with Team USA. He is one of two 18-and-under members on the men’s team.
“I am proud and excited to be here after Junior Pan Pacs last year,” said McFadden, who will swim the preliminary heats of the 4×200 freestyle relay race in Japan. “USA Swimming has a very nice progression from an age-group swimmer to making the Olympic team.
“This is another one of those steps.”
McFadden swam for his school team as well as the Jersey Wahoos Swim Club under coach Paul Donovan throughout high school. He puts in about 20 hours of practice a week – approximately 17 of them in the water – according to his coach.
Donovan noted that McFadden’s confidence was one of the things he improved on most this year.
“I think last year, he made such big leaps just to make the junior team,” Donovan explained, “but that also gave him great confidence in himself.”
McFadden shared his perspective.
“Last spring, I went to my first meet with all the Olympians, which was very intimidating,” he recalled. “Over the course of the year, I swam at some smaller meets with them. It wasn’t until I started beating some of them that I realized they are normal humans and became less intimidated.
“I think this was a big step, because it helped me see that I could do what they do.”
Donovan also noted that while McFadden has always been a hard worker, he’s “taken things to a new level” technically this year.
“He’s much better underwater,” the coach pointed out. “He’s taking less strokes per lap than he was a year ago, which just means at the end of the races, he’s got a little more energy to give because he’s been managing his effort a little better throughout the races.”
Although he will compete in the freestyle, Donovan noted that McFadden is also a world-class butterfly swimmer. He placed third at the junior nationals last summer in the 200 butterfly, and he’s become a really good individual-medley swimmer as well.
McFadden will swim at Stanford University this fall, but says he will remember his time in Haddonfield fondly.
“People would follow along and text me after a big swim, even if I didn’t tell them I was going to a meet,” he remembered. “Even my teachers would congratulate me after a big swim.
“It was that level of support that meant a lot to me.”
McFadden’s session in the world championships meet will air on Peacock Thursday, July 27 beginning at 9:30 pm.