Get To Know… Maxime Rooney

Maxime, thanks a lot for joining us. First off, can you tell us a little bit how you got involved with the sport of swimming. And, more importantly, how you became so passionate about it?

My parents put me and my brothers in swim lessons primarily for water safety reasons. We had a pool in our back yard so it was necessary, as young and energetic boys, to be able to swim and feel safe around the water.

The passion for the sport came from being in the water. I began swimming in a summer league when I was five years old. When I was eight years old, I moved to my club team, Pleasanton Seahawks, that was only 10 minutes away and really presented me with a lot of opportunities to grow. Frankly, switching to a year-round swim team was the best decision I made for my career as it really allowed me to grow in so many different ways.

You saw some incredible success in your early swimming days prior to college including a world championship and contributing to a junior world record in 2015. You could probably go to any school in the country. Why did you sign with Florida? What was the deciding factor for your decision?

I knew early on that I wanted to have my decision made as a junior in high school. In my senior year, I wanted to entirely focus on my school work. I didn't want my recruiting process to succumb my training or senior year activities.

In assessing my recruiting options, I actually sat down with my coach at the Pleasanton Seahawks and we talked about 4-5 schools that we both thought would be the best fit for me. Not only to advance my swimming career but also to line me up with the best opportunities to achieve my personal goals as well.

I was able to take visits to a couple of those schools but my dad always said that when you are on campus and take a deep breath, you will be able to tell what you should do. And so I did... I just knew deep down in my heart that Florida would be the best fit for me.

You continued your incredible success in your first couple of years with the Gators. By now, you are a five-time All-American, won five SEC titles, and were named the 2017 SEC Male Freshman Swimmer of the Year. What do you contribute your success to?

For the first two years at Florida, I solely focused on transitioning. Moving from the west coast to the east coast is a big step. So, my primary goal was to get myself adjusted to not only the training demands in the weight room but also different practice routines as well as the increase of practice in general.

Overall, I would say that the support staff that helped me with my transition is probably the largest factor in my success.

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Talk a little bit more about that transition. What else was so challenging about it for you?

The transition was really challenging for me, yes. I never lifted weights before, for example, so that was completely new. I never had done any power series workouts in the water in the morning either. Just the whole practice routines were new to me. Getting my food and nutrition right as I always had my mum cook for me. So, ultimately, just figuring out what I need, what is good for me, how to get around, etc. took some time.

Given your athletic resume, this might be difficult to answer, but... Can you pinpoint your most memorable moment as a student-athlete thus far?

Actually, there is two moments that really stand out to me. My first one is my inaugural SEC title in my freshman year. It was the first title I won and both my mum and dad were right there to celebrate with me. That was very special to me.

My second memory is from this summer. Before the summer, I was not necessarily as competitive as I had been in the past in regards to having a mental edge. And this summer, I just felt like I got my mental edge back and set myself up for the future years to be great. I'm confident again that the work I'm putting in is going to pay off which was very critical to me.

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While you still have quite some time left, what is the most important thing you learned as a student-athlete?

That you always have a little bit more in the tank. It's an expression we use a lot here and my older club coaches said it as well. Obviously, you are always reaching a breaking point in your sport. But realizing that you have a little bit more in you and having the confidence to trust the process was very important.

Maxime, thank you for your time. Lastly, do you have some advice for incoming freshman?

What I think is really important as a freshman in either high school or college is to surround yourself with a healthy community. They will support you if you allow them to. That support system is ultimately what gets you through the whole journey.

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